October 2, 2023

The reported P1.67 billion worth of dangerous drugs confiscated in the Cordillera in 2021 is considered unprecedented, according to the regional Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

PDEA-Cordillera Director Gil Cesario P. Castro said the one-year accomplishment is a result of their relentless anti-illegal drug operation in close coordination with the Philippine National Police, which included suspects who may have brought large supplies of illegal drugs to the communities in the region if not successfully intercepted.

He added the accomplishment was acknowledged by the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council as an unprecedented feat and because of which they could claim success in the war of drugs.

“For 2021 alone the total volume of drugs seized is more than P1.67B worth, which accordingly turns out to be unprecedented. Ibig sabihin we can claim success on the drug war because of this number of confiscated items na sana pupunta sa mga komunidad,” Castro said in press conference on Dec. 14.

From the total volume, P1.04B worth were seized marijuana plants, followed by marijuana dried leaves worth P451,746,201.04; marijuana bricks worth P107,885,168.40; marijuana stalks worth P47,356,990.80; marijuana seedlings, P15,818,200; shabu, P5,120,274.20; ecstacy, P3,031,100; marijuana seeds, P1,560,192.56; liquid shabu, P187,884; marijuana oil, 137,189.10; and marijuana resin oil worth P12,760.

Out 503 suspects arrested for the year, 12 arrests are considered to have significantly made a dent in the attempt to bring in illegal drugs.

Among them was arrested for drug den operation at the city’s central business district where those arrested with him tested positive for drug use.

Three suspects from Cavite, Antipolo City, and Makati City were arrested for transporting illegal drugs.

Two from Marikina City, known to be in control of eastern Manila in their operation, sold illegal drugs using the Internet, along with another suspect from Tinglayan, Kalinga.

In this case, the police have accessed the chat group of the suspects where they discovered that drugs are openly discussed and sold. 

Another arrested suspect is from Sayangan, Atok, Benguet where it was confirmed marijuana is being cultivated intentionally and were planted along with agricultural crops. 

One was caught with ecstasy by the PDEA in close coordination with the government of Germany and Ninoy Aquino International Airport authorities.

The suspect was a drug mule who is a member of an international drug trafficking syndicate.

Another suspect operated a Benguet-based drug group, while one was caught for operating a drug den and was found  to be a relative of a convict who is now serving life imprisonment term, also due to drugs and a sibling of the serial killer in 2015 who killed two minors in Baguio City.

One arrested suspect is from Tabuk, Kalinga who used private vehicles to transport marijuana to buyers.

Another is a potential narco politician who filed his candidacy for mayor and former police officer from Sadanga, Mountain Province who was arrested for illegal drug smuggling.

Another was caught for drug smuggling and was previously arrested for the same crime in May 2020.

One arrest involved 12 individuals who posted as tourists to smuggle drugs using a vehicle arranged with a tour company to transport illegal drugs.

Also arrested is a former councilor in Bauko, Mountain Province for transporting drugs and believed to have plans to run for mayor if he was not arrested.

Castro acknowledged it would be difficult to eradicate illegal drugs totally, as long as there is demand or people who have money and continue to buy illegal drug items. It is the reason one of their strategies is to strengthen their advocacy against illegal drugs.

“The good thing is, (given our accomplishment), it is already minimal. We were able to reduce these instances with the confiscation of large volumes or supply of illegal drugs. We were also able to rehabilitate and reintegrate to the society more than a thousand individuals. This means we reduce the supply and demand, and former drug dependents have come back to the community as reformed individuals,” Castro said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana