5 dead, 65 nabbed in ‘one-time, big-time’ anti-drug operation in Davao City

DAVAO CITY – Law enforcement and security forces in Davao City launched another “one-time big-time” anti-drug operation Friday dawn in 10 villages here, leaving five suspected drug pushers dead.

Sixty-five others, including women and a minor, were arrested.

Sr. Superintendent Alexander Tagum , Davao City Police Office (DCPO) director, said they conducted the operation to implement 18 search warrants, 34 warrants of arrest and 11 buy-bust operations in separate areas of the city.

The simultaneous operation resulted to the confiscation of 131.4 grams of suspected shabu with an estimated value of PHP1.9 million, 11 motorcycles, six firearms, a dynamite, and a hand grenade, Tagum said.

Tagum said the operation was a result of the series of test buys in 10 villages.

The team was composed of units from the Philippine National Police (PNP) such as the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Highway Patrol Group, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Task Force Davao, Philippine Coast Guard, and Central 911, among others.

Those killed in the operations were identified as Mark Joseph Gimo-og, 28, of Barangay 76-A; Rolly Arendain of Sagrada Familia, Km 12, Sasa; Alex Cayao of Purok Catigan, Tagakpan, Tugbok; Jonathan LihayLihay Jr of Ilang, Tibungco; and, Louie Francis Reta of Sasa.

Tagum said they were killed when they tried to engage the police during the implementation of the warrants.

Of the 66 arrested persons, 55 are males and 10 are females. A 14-year-old was also among those rescued.

According to Tagum, minors have been used as drug couriers.

PDEA director Adhzar Albani, however, noted the volume of suspected shabu seized during the operation is smaller than the last “one-time big-time” operation, which netted at least 300 grams of shabu.

But, according to Albani, there are more persons arrested this time compared to the last operation.

”It (supply) decreased by more than half. This means supply is smaller,” Albani told reporters in a press conference on Friday noon.

He said even the price of shabu is becoming expensive in Davao, which has been leading in the campaign against illegal drugs since the 1990s, because of lesser supply. Albani said a gram of shabu is now being sold at PHP15,000, the highest price in the country.

Asked where the supply of shabu comes from, Albani said it comes “from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).” He said “it has been known that there are shabu laboratories in some parts of the ARMM.”

While Davao City has strict security measures in checkpoints, Albani admitted that not all can be searched when entering the city. He said people can conceal drugs.

“We are not a fascist state,”Albani stressed.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio lauded the successful operation.

While the city has been “leading” in the country’s anti-drugs campaign, the mayor said there is “no city anywhere with zero criminality,” especially for Davao because of its huge land area.

There are so many people who would take advantage of any situation, and there are people whose objective is to commit crimes, she said.

”But this will not be the first and last time we’ll conduct an operation nga ingon ani kadako (as big as this),” she told reporters.

When asked why there are only small-time illegal peddlers caught, the mayor said the “poor are more vulnerable to offers of easy money because of poverty.” LCM/PNA-northboundasia.com