PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte was not blaming a particular country when he said the drug syndicates in Hong Kong and Taiwan were turning the country into their client state, Malacañang said Thursday.
But Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella insisted that organized crime groups were behind the proliferation of drugs in the country, and that Duterte had “credible international sources.”
While Duterte mentioned the Taiwan-based Bamboo drug triad, it did not mean that he was pinning the blame on its citizens for the proliferation of illegal substances in the Philippines, Abella said.
“[The President] did say that he was not blaming any particular country but [that] there was an organized crime that is behind all these drug trafficking. He did refer to [the] Bamboo Triad.
“I’m assuming the Bamboo Triad are of Chinese ethnicity. They may be Chinese nationals but they are not government-sponsored. I think that has to be cleared.”
In his speech on Tuesday, Duterte said two international drug syndicates had turned the Philippines into their “client state” for large-scale drug trafficking in Southeast Asia and the Americas: the Hong Kong-based 14K and the Taiwan-based United Bamboo Gang, also known as UBG.
Duterte likewise noted that those cooking shabu in the country were given “franchise and distribution” rights by these two groups to operate in the country.
He said the country was being used as a “transshipment” point of the crime groups that had “turned international,” and that he was seeking help from the United States to help control the drug smuggling.
On Wednesday, Taiwan denied Duterte’s claim that it was a source of drugs in the Philippines, with its representative in Manila Gary Song-Huann Lin saying he would like to get information on the President’s allegations.
Responding to the envoy’s pronouncements, Abella said the President would respond to Lin’s request for clarification “when he finds it necessary.”
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua has also denied that he is aware of the Bamboo Triad, but assured local officials that China would not protect criminals.
Philippine officials have long held that most of the drugs being imported to the Philippines are from China.
The Hong Kong-based 14K triad is the second largest Triad group in the world with around 25,000 members split into 30 subgroups, and which are responsible for large-scale drug trafficking around the world, most of it heroin and opium from China or Southeast Asia.