There are no official or legitimate reports about drug production on the disputed Scarborough Shoal, contrary to what independent senatorial candidate Abner Afuang has said.
Afuang made the claim on his Facebook Live on April 2, saying at the 26:58 mark:
Yang Scarborough Shoal, atin yan. Dyan ginagawa ang shabu. Kaya dyan yung airplane ng China na yan, lahat (Scarborough Shoal is ours. Shabu is being produced there. So the airplane of China is there, everything.).
The Scarborough Shoal, or the Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, is located within the country’s 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and serves as a fishing ground for Filipinos.
China, however, has been claiming ownership over it through its nine-dash line rule, which covers the largest portion of the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.
Reports from Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, South China Morning Post, and Nikkei Asia said Scarborough Shoal has no built structures.
Data requested from the Philippine National Police, meanwhile, show four drug cases were recorded in Zambales from 2016 to 2022. But none was from Masinloc town where Scarborough Shoal belongs.
The case of “floating ‘shabu’ laboratory” was reported in 2016 on the coast of Subic, Zambales, about 270 kilometers from Scarborough Shoal. It involved four Chinese nationals based in Hong Kong.
Afuang is known for burning Chinese flags as his way of protesting against China. In 2014, during one of his flag-burning demonstrations, he said he would continue torching the foreign flag because China has been “bullying” the Philippines.
The Philippines in 2013 filed a case against China with the Permanent Court of Arbitration for violating international law such as historic rights, maritime entitlements, and illegal activities on the country’s territory.
The international court in 2016 ruled in favor of the Philippines and rejected China’s claim to the entirety of the South China Sea. However, China continues to ignore the ruling. Chinese ships continue to patrol near the Scarborough Shoal, according to reports of the Philippine Coast Guard.
Afuang served as a National Bureau of Investigation agent before he became the mayor of Pagsanjan, Laguna from 1998 to 2001. This is his second senatorial bid; he lost in 2019, ranking 42nd with more than 500,000 votes.
As of April 16, the video has garnered 356 reactions, 30 shares and more than 3,400 views. (JL)