Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Illegal drug abuse, specifically of "shabu", is on the rise in the country, according to an international drug monitoring body.
The Philippines is on a list of countries in Southeast Asia and East Asia where a rise in drug trafficking has been noted.
In its 2011 annual report, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) noted an increase in drug trafficking through Southeast Asia and East Asia by West African and Iranian organized criminal groups, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The INCB is an independent monitoring body that implements United Nations international drug control conventions.
The INCB specifically noted that China (including Hong Kong), Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines reported increased trafficking in heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine by groups with connections to organized trafficking gangs in West Africa and Iran.
According to the report, the criminal groups had established trafficking networks in Asia and usually hired drug couriers from Ghana, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines, the DFA said.
The INCB urged the governments in the two Asian regions "to devise appropriate and effective strategies to address the threats posed by trafficking in and abuse of methamphetamine and to strengthen regional cooperation in that regard."
Recently, a Kenyan woman was caught trying to smuggle nearly 10 kilograms of shabu, or methamphetamine hydrochloride, into the Philippines from the United Arab Emirates.
Lina Aching Noah, 36, was arrested after customs inspectors found the illegal drugs, with a street value of 45 million pesos (US$1.05 million), in the lining of her luggage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Noah, a suspected member of an African drug syndicate, had come from Dubai.
The PDEA said it had received a tip about Noah from a foreign counterpart agency, prompting agents to coordinate with the bureaus of immigration and customs to intercept her.
In December 2011, a 35-year-old man convicted of drug trafficking was executed in China. He was the fourth Philippine national to be put to death for dealing in dangerous drugs by the world's most prolific executioner.
Published reports say the Philippines has more than 200 people languishing in Chinese jails on drug-related charges.