Taiwan denies it was source of cocaine found in Sorsogon

MANILA, Philippines – The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines denied on Monday, January 8, that the P125 million worth of cocaine found ashore in Sorsogon came from Taiwan.

Around 24 kilograms of cocaine had been recovered by authorities from the seashore of the Juag Lagoon in Matnog, Sorsogon last Wednesday, January 3. The illegal drugs are believed to have come from a foreign cargo ship marked Jin Ming, which had made an emergency docking.

TECO clarified on Monday that the cargo ship is not Taiwanese, contrary to supposed claims of the vessel's captain, who is from mainland China.

"As per records of Taiwanese relevant authorities, the so-called 'Jin Ming No. 16' is not registered in Taiwan, and there is no database existing in Taiwan. As a matter of fact, the said ship was already sold to the Togolese Republic in Africa in 2000. Based on the Philippine authorities' investigation of the ship's documents, albeit expired, the record confirms that the vessel's nationality is Togolese," TECO said.

"The so-called Taiwanese documents submitted to Philippine authorities by the captain (a mainland Chinese) are actually faked and forged by him, not true and authentic documents," the office added.

TECO also pointed out the ship's route was from Hainan, China to Chile, based on crew interviews conducted by Philippine authorities and on the ship's Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) data.

Of the 9 crew members of the Jin Ming, 6 are from China, two from Hong Kong, and one from Taiwan.

TECO said it is cooperating with the Philippines' probe into the case.

"We will continue to partner with Philippine law enforcement agencies to combat illegal drug trafficking," it also said.

Back in September 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte had blamed an alleged Taiwanese triad for being the "new source" of illegal drugs in the Philippines. TECO denied this allegation, adding that Taiwan has even helped seize P3.2 billion in shabu, shabu laboratories, and related equipment in recent years. – Rappler.com