Philippines seizes 1.8 tonnes of meth in drug bust

Marcos inspected the drug haul on Tuesday and said it was the "biggest shipment of shabu ever caught" in the Philippines.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos (C, in white shirt) and Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos (2nd R) inspect seized methamphetamine drugs in Alitatag town in Batangas province on April 16, 2024.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos (C, in white shirt) and Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos (2nd R) inspect seized methamphetamine drugs in Alitatag town in Batangas province on April 16, 2024.Photo | AFP

MANILA: The Philippines has seized 1.8 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine, President Ferdinand Marcos said Tuesday, describing the bust as a record and the "right approach" to the drug war.

Police found the illegal drugs, estimated to be worth more than $230 million, on Monday during a search of a van in Batangas province, south of Manila. The driver was arrested.

Marcos inspected the drug haul on Tuesday and said it was the "biggest shipment of shabu ever caught" in the Philippines.

Shabu is the local name for cheap and highly addictive crystal meth. It was not clear if it was a record value or quantity of drugs.

"But not one person died, no one died, no gunfight, no one got injured," Marcos told reporters.

"We did the operation carefully. That's the right approach, for me, that should be the approach in the drug war."

Police were tracing the source of the drugs, but Marcos said they were not made locally.

Thousands of people were killed in anti-drug operations under former president Rodrigo Duterte, sparking an international investigation into alleged human rights abuses.

The drug war has continued under Marcos even though he has pushed for more emphasis on prevention and rehabilitation.

More than 600 people have been killed in drug-related killings since he took power in June 2022, according to figures compiled by Dahas, a University of the Philippines-backed research project that keeps a count of such killings.

Human Rights Watch senior researcher Carlos Conde said Monday's drug bust proved that going after narcotics "can be done without violence, if authorities really do their job and follow due process".

Conde challenged the Marcos administration to declare an end to the violent drug war and rescind Duterte's orders for the bloody crackdown.

"It's time for Mr Marcos to walk the talk on drug policy reform," Conde said.

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