July 22, 2024

The geographic locations of marijuana cultivation sites in Kibungan, Benguet remain a challenge to authorities when it comes to drug-clearing operations. 

Kibungan Municipal Police Station Acting Chief of Police, Capt. Efren Anapen said there are instances where the police, together with other drug enforcement agencies, need to go through La Union and Ilocos Sur to access the identified marijuana cultivation sites in the municipality.

“The problem is that the planting sites are really a dead spot and the terrain is challenging since these are geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas,” Anapen said.

That is why in most marijuana eradication operations, there are no suspects found on site by the time operatives reach the identified planting area.

Authorities instead get the grid coordinates of the planting site and cooperate with the Municipal Assessor’s Office to get a lead on the suspects.

He said they are also partnering with residents in tracking down suspected cultivators.

Despite this, authorities are strengthening the conduct of information campaigns in the community about the ill effects of illegal drugs as well as the heavy punishment for those caught possessing and cultivating the illegal plant.

Recently, authorities conducted a five-day marijuana operation in 27 plantation sites in Tacadang, the farthest barangay in the municipality.

Drug enforcement personnel destroyed 60,000 marijuana plants and 350 kilos of dried marijuana worth of P50.38 million.

Early this month, members of the Kibungan MPS and the Benguet 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company were conducting an anti-communist terrorist group operation at Sitio Lingey in Tacadang when they chanced upon two marijuana planting sites with an area of 156 square meters with 1,200 fully grown marijuana and seedbed with 300 marijuana seedlings.

The illegal plants, estimated to be worth P250,000, are inside the communal forest.  

Also spotted near the planting sites were 40 kilograms of dried marijuana worth P4.8 million, which were stacked in an improvised wooden bamboo drier. No suspects were found at the site.

In December 2022, Kibungan was one of the local go-vernment units that received the 2022 National Anti-Drug Abuse Council Performance Awards for its performance in its campaign against illegal drugs.

Currently, Kibungan is listed as a drug-cleared municipality. – Ofelia C. Empian