Chinese drug lords ‘untouchable’?

By Herbert Vego

WHILE researching on the involvement of the police in the illegal drug trade, I stumbled upon a 2019 newspaper clipping which quoted the then Senate President Tito Sotto on the entry of shabu and cocaine from China: “The Chinese government has the same headache that we have. Meth precursor substances might be coming mostly from China but it does not mean their government is behind it. We should be careful lest we insinuate such.”

Sotto’s statement was meant to defend the friendship existing between former President Rodrigo Duterte and China’s Xi Jinping.

However, it was contradictory to that of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief, Aaron Aquino, who had said, “Meth or shabu in the past were mostly coming from China, but not now. Most are coming from the Golden Triangle region which borders Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar.”

Incumbent President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos appears to be just as indifferent despite the Senate probe on the involvement of generals in the Philippine National Police (PNP). As in Duterte’s time, the present administration focuses on running after small-time drug pushers.

Going back to the China connection, let us go down memory lane. Let us remember that day (July 27, 2016) when President Duterte visited a military camp where he told the soldiers and police, “Where is the big fish? If you want them, go to China. Look for them there.”

Surprisingly, one of the President’s visitors earlier in the same month was his kumpare Peter Lim, who had been reported to be the head of a sub-group within the Chinese Triad.

“Triad,” according to the Oxford dictionary, is “a secret society originating in China, typically involved in organized crime.”

Another news clipping reported that on September 22, 2016, a composite team of Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) operatives raided a “piggery” at Mount Arayat, Pampanga, where they uncovered an industrial-sized laboratory capable of producing at least 200 kilograms a day of shabu. The raid netted Hong Wenzheng, a 39-year-old Chinese national from Fujian, China.

In fairness, the presence of Triad groups had been reported much earlier in 1997 during the Fidel Ramos presidency when the police arrested a certain Fred Tiongco in Quezon City, seizing 419 grams of ephedrine and high-powered firearms.

Whether true or false, Senator Tito Sotto broke into the front pages as one of Fred’s politician friends.

The five Triad groups allegedly operating in the Philippines were the Big Circle Gang, United Bamboo Gang, 14K Gang, Ghost Shadows and San Yeeon. They reportedly laundered drug money abroad through the shadowy “Binondo Central Bank.”

Oh we of short memory! We have forgotten about former civilian police agent Mary “Rosebud” Ong, who named those Triad groups but eventually kept her mouth shut.

By a strange fluke of fate, Rosebud was arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in July 2021 for allegedly selling anti-Covid-19 vaccination slots for P7,000 each.

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.



WE electricity users in Iloilo City welcome the latest price cut by MORE Power. As already published in this paper, it has gone down from ₱13.2511 to ₱12.2990 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), thus regaining the “crown” for distributing the cheapest power in Panay.

According to MORE Power spokesman Jonathan Cabrera, it’s mainly because the generation cost embedded thereat has gone down to ₱7.1182 per kWh.

The addition of Energy Development Corp’s geothermal power in the power supply mix has had a positive impact. It is a renewable energy known for its cost-effectiveness and environmental benefits.

A decrease in coal prices in the world market has also contributed to this decline.

The transmission charge has also decreased this month from ₱0.9057 to ₱0.7226 per kWh.

Moreover, the reduction in the system loss from 7.00% to 6.49% has offered additional relief to consumers.

Another good news is that MORE Power now requires its security personnel to wear body-worn cameras (BWC) in reaction to complaints on alleged abuses against the rights and privileges of consumers during apprehension operations.  The cameras are not concealed, thus providing an extra level of security and transparency.