Philippines seizes S$175 million worth of 'shabu' in record drugs haul

MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippine authorities have seized about 6 billion pesos (S$175 million) worth of methamphetamines in a series of anti-narcotics operations this month that have yielded the biggest haul in the country's history, the Justice Minister said on Tuesday.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conducted the operations, including one on Monday in San Juan City in the capital Manila where drums of chemicals used to produce methamphetamines, or "shabu" as it is known, were seized.

That followed a raid on Friday in a quiet neighbourhood in the same city, when six people were arrested and 560kg of suspected methamphetamines was found, worth an estimated US$67 million (S$97 million).

"It is not only the biggest haul this year, but the biggest so far in history," Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said in a news conference.

The seizures will be a boost for President Rodrigo Duterte, who is facing allegations of widespread human rights violations in a bloody war on drugs dominated by killings of drug users and pushers, with few known arrests of major drug lords.

Mr Duterte has expressed his frustration at the failure of the anti-money laundering authorities to chase the trail of drug money, accusing them of helping to fuel corruption and threatening to charge them with crimes.

Agents of the NBI said their latest operation involved an apartment rented by a Chinese national, who was not there when the raid took place.

More than 6,000 people have been killed in the crackdown since Mr Duterte took office in July, roughly a third in police operations. The other deaths are classified as under investigation, many believed to be the work of vigilantes.