March 3, 2024

The discovery of marijuana plants worth close to P3 million within the BLISTT area, particularly in La Trinidad and Sablan, is a serious indication that illegal drug trade in the localities remains a grave concern despite the government’s relentless war on drugs.
The uprooting and eventual burning of these marijuana plants, which were ready for harvesting anytime soon made police and anti-narcotics operatives realize that clandestine marijuana plantations are no longer confined in hard-to-reach areas in the Cordillera, but are also grown in thickly forested parts of urban areas such as La Trinidad.
There’s a serious problem here.
In the past, law enforcers and anti-narcotics agents with the help of the military had to walk the extra mile to reach these marijuana plantations, particularly in the treacherous terrains of Benguet, Mountain Province, and Kalinga.
The anti-illegal drug campaign in the Cordillera, especially the eradication of marijuana, has been sustained since the Duterte government waged an all-out war on drugs. “War on marijuana” was intensified in the wake of reports that almost 70 percent of the total marijuana supply in the country were clandestinely shipped from the hinterlands of the region.
The eradication that took place within the BLISTT area has broken the myth that marijuana plantations are only prevalent in poverty-stricken areas in the highlands since the absence of roads and inaccessibility to government services are among the main reasons why poor families dwelling in forgotten villages in the northern highlands continue to cultivate marijuana.
While reports have it that marijuana plants were previously harvested without being noticed by authorities, we still commend public vigilance that led the Benguet Police Provincial Office in clearing these marijuana plantation sites within the BLISTT area before those behind it could expand to other thickly forested areas near us.
By some indications, those behind the marijuana plantation sites thought they could outsmart our law enforcers.
They were wrong, as there is a noted increased public vigilance against the illegal drug trade amid the series of controversies and alleged anomalies on Duterte’s war on drugs.
But if there is one good thing about the war on drugs waged by Duterte, it is the fact that it has come to the attention of the Philippine National Police general headquarters that the Police Regional Office-Cordillera is home to the most disciplined cops in the entire country, without a single cop assigned in the region having ever tested positive for illegal drug use.
This also dispels rumors that some men in uniform could be serving as protectors of the clandestine marijuana plantations in the highlands, which could cast doubts on the credibility of the war on drugs in the region.
The discovery of marijuana plantation sites near us now serves as a challenge for the Benguet police command in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to convene all barangay leaders concerned to formulate operational plans on how to discourage the cultivation of marijuana plants in thickly-forested sites within the BLISTT area.
The use of modern technology such as drones in discovering possible marijuana plantation sites makes surveillance activities easier now for our law enforcers and anti-narcotics operatives.
But nothing beats public vigilance and an empowered citizenry and law enforcers in winning the war on drugs.