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The Philippines has the highest shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) abuse rate in East Asia, according to the latest United Nations World Drug Report.

The 2011 report also disclosed that 2.1 percent of Filipinos aged 16 to 64 were shabu users and that the "domestic consumption of methamphetamine and marijuana continued to be the main drug threats in the Philippines.�''

Citing records from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the report said that from January to October 2011, authorities seized 250 kilograms of methamphetamine valued at about $68 million (roughly P2.92 billion).

Philippine authorities also confiscated 4,789,146 marijuana plants and seedlings and 818 kilograms of marijuana at $17.4 million (roughly P748 million); 17,222 grams of cocaine at $2 million (roughly P86 million); and 960 tablets of ecstasy at $26,790 (roughly P1.15 million) during the same period.

They also conducted 9,850 anti-illegal drug operations that resulted in the arrest of 8,491 suspects and the filing of 9,995 cases.

Chinese organized crime groups continue to be the primary organizers and financiers of methamphetamine trafficking, according to the report. But there is a new trend of African-produced methamphetamine being smuggled to the country for distribution to other parts of Southeast Asia.

Despite the success in dismantling shabu laboratories and the arrest of manufacturers of the illegal substance, the report says drug trafficking remains a major challenge for the Philippines.

"The scale of the trafficking abuse problem in the Philippines continues to pose a major challenge in prosecution: the Supreme Court Office of the Court Administrator reported that in the National Capital Region, as of December 2010 almost 30 percent of pending regional trial court cases were drug-related," the report said.

Another challenge is the inadequate fund to address the problem, the report said. It noted that in order for PDEA - the country's lead anti-drug law enforcement agency - to carry out its mission, it has to request support from other law enforcement and military drug units whose funds are also insufficient.

"The Philippines also continued to face the daunting task of tackling transnational drug trafficking organizations without strong legal tools such as provision for judicially authorized interception of criminal communications, plea bargaining, and an efficient drug asset forfeiture process," noted the report, which was cited by the US Department of State in its 2012 International Drug Control Strategy Report.

"Without these important tools, enforcement's ability to gather evidence against high-level drug traffickers remained limited," it added.