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P500-M worth of cocaine found in Davao City container yard 

Authorities seized 51 blocks of cocaine worth P500 million in a container yard in Buhisan Tibungco in Davao City over the weekend.

According to a report on GMA News' “24 Oras” aired Monday evening, the first 24 blocks of cocaine were discovered inside a Maersk container van Saturday evening after part of the van's ceiling collapsed.

Authorities found 27 more blocks of cocaine in a follow-up search in other parts of the container yard, “24 Oras” reported. Each block weighs about one kilogram, the report said.

Customs officials suspect that 13 more blocks of cocaine have yet to be accounted for.

On Saturday night, shipyard personnel were about to load bananas in the 40-foot Maersk container van when part of the ceiling collapsed, revealing the concealed drugs. The discovery prompted them to call the police.

Based on the initial investigation of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Enforcement and Security Service, the container van came from Hong Kong and was about to be shipped to South Korea. The BOC said it is now trying to trace the port where the blocks of cocaine were loaded.

“Magkakaroon tayo ng coordination sa mga international law enforcement organizations, and then itra-trace natin yung trail nung container,” said Customs Enforcement and Security Service chief Willie Tolentino.

Just last week, the Japanese government alerted the BOC that some drug smugglers are hiding their contraband in container vans. “If there's an intelligence report regarding that kind of modus operandi, sina-subject namin yung container van sa x-ray,” Tolentino said.

This is the second time that illegal drugs have been confiscated from a container van, the Customs bureau said.

GMA News is still trying to get a statement from Maersk regarding the incident.

Meanwhile, in a separate “24 Oras” report, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte warned people who may have taken the 13 blocks of cocaine that authorities said have gone missing to surrender the drugs.

“If you try to spirit it away, papalusutin mo, pagdating sa gate kung mahuli ka ng pulis, sabi ko (sa pulis) barilin mo. Ganun naman talaga 'yan. Tutal ang (Commission on) Human Rights hindi naman sila makakapagsoli (ng droga),” Duterte said.

Duterte added that he believes Davao City is just being used as a transshipment point, and that the seized cocaine was not intended for distribution in the city.

The Commission on Human Rights had earlier warned Duterte that he may face charges if he continues to issue grave threats against smugglers. — Elizabeth Marcelo/JDS, GMA News