By Leilanie Adriano

LATEST FIND. A personnel of the Ilocos Sur Provincial Police Forensic Unit examines the white crystalline substance in front of the public on Thursday (June 27, 2024). The samples, which yielded positive results for shabu, were taken from the black sack found by fishermen floating on the waters of the village of Villamar in Caoayan, Ilocos Sur on Wednesday morning but surrendered to the police later in the day. (Photo courtesy of the Police Regional Office 1)

LAOAG CITY – Ilocos Region authorities have intensified monitoring and surveillance efforts along the region’s coastlines after local fishermen found for the third time this week a black sack floating in the sea that contains millions of pesos worth of shabu.

The sack was discovered to contain 17.93 kilos of shabu worth PHP121.8 million, which was found by fishermen at the waters of Barangay Villamar, Caoayan, Ilocos Sur on Wednesday morning.

“The discovery was initially made by local fishermen in the morning of June 26 but they reported their find to authorities on Wednesday evening,” Lt. Col. Benigno Sumawang, chief of the Regional Police Information Office, told the Philippine News Agency Thursday.

He said the contraband is currently in the custody of the Ilocos Sur Provincial Forensic Unit.

On Monday, fishermen from San Juan, Ilocos Sur found floating in the waters illegal drugs that authorities later on said weighed around 23.9 kilos and has an estimated value of PHP157 million.

On Wednesday morning, another package was seen in the waters of Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, and it was found containing more than 18 kilos of shabu with an estimated value of PHP117 million.

As this develops, village force multipliers, including members of the Bantay Dagat (Sea Patrol) are currently monitoring the coastal areas for possible sight of suspicious packages or activities to be able to report it immediately to the nearest police station.

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa mabilis na pagrereport ng ating mga kababayan sa ating kapulisan. Patuloy pa rin po ang pagsasagawa natin ng imbestigasyon at umaasa po kami sa patuloy ninyong pakikipag-ugnayan at pakikipagtulongan sa amin (We are thankful for the quick reporting of our constituents to the police. Investigation continues and we hope for your continued coordination and support),” Police Brigadier General Lou Evangelista, regional director of the Police Regional Office 1 (PRO1), said in a media interview on Thursday.

Ilocos Sur Governor Jeremias Singson expressed alarm about the contrabands fished out from different towns of Ilocos Sur this week.

“There must be a reason for these and we would like to find out. Were these intentionally left in the sea to destroy our image as a peaceful province or what?,” he said in a radio interview.

Singson enjoined his constituents to help authorities get into the bottom of the issue.

Ilocos Sur Board member Efren Rafanan, who co-chairs the Provincial Peace and Order Council, recommended the passage of a resolution allotting fund to give rewards to the fishermen who surrendered the contraband to authorities.

The amount has yet to be announced, he said.

“We will be giving them reward. We have already coordinated with the mayors and the provincial government (Ilocos Sur) for us to identify the names of the fishermen and we will hand them reward,” he said in another radio interview. (PNA)