MANILA — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has nabbed around 8,500 drug offenders and seized more than PHP8 billion worth of illegal drugs during the first 100 days of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“When I took over the leadership of PDEA, the President ordered to stop the drug problem in three to six months by all means that the law allows. The government’s fight against illegal drugs has never been strongly felt by the Filipinos until the leadership of President Duterte,” said PDEA Director General Isidro S. Lapeña.
“In response to the President’s marching orders, PDEA focused its operational thrusts towards the conduct of high-impact operations and arrests of high-value targets to suppress the supply of dangerous drugs, while stepping up the drug demand reduction efforts in the communities,” Lapeña added.
As the country’s top anti-drug agency, PDEA, in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, has conducted a total of 7,928 anti-drug operations that led to the arrest of 8,428 drug personalities, filing of 7,002 drug cases and the seizure of PHP8.21 billion worth of dangerous drugs and controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs), from June 30 to October 7, 2016.
He noted that intensified efforts of these anti-drug units led to the discovery and dismantling of the first floating shabu laboratory in Subic last July and an industrial-type shabu laboratory dubbed as the biggest in the country in Pampanga last month.
He added there were five clandestine shabu laboratories dismantled during the period, compared to the two illegal facilities dismantled in 2015 and three in the first semester of 2016.
Due to the continuous crackdown on shabu laboratories in the country, the volume of confiscated illegal drugs has also significantly increased.
So far this year, authorities seized total of 1,453.46 kilograms of shabu, exceeding the yearly seizures from 2010 to 2015.
Lapeña noted that these accomplishments were the consequential action of drug personalities in trying to avoid detection and making quick disposals of equipment used in manufacturing shabu wherein eight incidences of recovery of abandoned chemicals in expressways were recorded.
So far, 25 drug dens were closed down nationwide. Drug dens are one-stop shops that facilitate administration, delivery, storage, distribution, and sale or use of illegal drugs.
Marijuana, the second most abused drug, is also under the close monitoring of law enforcers. The confiscation of 558.96 kilograms of dried marijuana leaves during the period has surpassed the seizures in 2014 and 2015. The destruction of marijuana plants, with an estimated value of PHP4.79 billion in 28 marijuana eradication operations, was also recorded.
In addition, authorities have also busted significantly the trade of ecstasy, the third most abused drug in the country with the seizure of 12,014 ecstasy tablets during the 100-day period, compared with the recorded yearly seizures from 2011 to 2014. On the hand, the seizure of 34.39 kilograms of cocaine, which were intercepted in the country’s premier airports, has already surpassed the seizure in 2015.
“The confiscated drug and non-drug evidence valued at PHP8.21 billion during the period has gone beyond the yearly recorded seizures of illegal drugs from 2011 to 2015,” Lapena noted.
Another breakthrough in the history of drug law enforcement in the country is the voluntary surrender of 733,635 drug personalities which comprises 24 percent of the 3.7 million drug users nationwide. Due to the mass surrender, shabu consumption was reduced to 2.24 metric tons that translates to PHP5.59 billion loss in the profit of drug syndicates, and the crime rate was reduced by 49 percent.
Further, the strong political will of shame-naming the drug protectors in the government instilled fear among those involved in the illegal drug trade and made them yield to authorities. The reinforced implementation of jail management systems had also positive effects in the reduction of drugs in the streets.
“Also taken into account is the rapid increase of the street price of shabu in the local market. From PHP1,200 to PHP11,000 per gram in January to June 2016, shabu now ranges from PHP1,200 to PHP25,000 per gram. This is the highest since 2002,” the PDEA chief pointed out, citing that when the market price of illegal drugs rises, it is generally assessed that there is scarcity of supply.
To strengthen the government’s anti-drug campaign in the communities, PDEA initiated the conduct of 34,296 drug demand reduction activities, including anti-drug summits throughout the country. To unite communities in the fight against illegal drugs, MASA MASID, a community-based program that aims to encourage pro-active participation of the citizenry for the prevention of corruption, illegal drugs and criminality in the barangays, was launched.
“It is noteworthy that it only took one hundred days to accomplish these achievements in response to the self-imposed obligation of the President. We can do more. The intensified war on drugs, at present, is seen, felt, and more importantly, participated in by the Filipino people, thus making the challenge, though overwhelming, becoming more and more attainable,” Lapeña said. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA-northboundasia.com