May 24, 2024

■  Ofelia C. Empian 

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Cordillera has filed 72 cases against suspects in the illegal drug trade in the region from December 2023 to March this year.  

During the first quarter Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), the PDEA reported that in Dec. 12, 2023 it had filed 15 cases; 29 cases in Jan. 2024; 21 cases in February; and seven cases in March 12. 

PDEA-CAR Information Officer Rosel Sarmiento said most of the cases filed were suspects in shabu sting operations while there three cases filed against suspects in marijuana buy-bust operations. 

The agency has conducted 149 anti-illegal drug operations which resulted in the arrest of 47 drug suspects and nine high-value targets from Dec. 2023 to March 12 this year.    

Sarmiento said in its four-month operation, a total volume of 85 grams of shabu with a value of P580,390 was seized while a total value of P357 million marijuana plants in various forms was also seized by the PDEA together with other law enforcement agencies. 

The agency reported that shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride remains to be the drug of choice in the Cordillera, however, marijuana dominates the confiscated items in the region.  

“Based on the interview conducted to the arrested drug personalities, shabu entering the Cordillera coming from other sources outside the region are passing through the major entry points of the area of responsibility using public utility vehicles and private vehicles, either rented or owned,” Sarmiento said. 

Also, marijuana in different forms is transported from some areas in Ting-layan, Kalinga; Sadanga, Mountain Province; and Kibungan, Benguet. 

The PDEA said personalities from the lowlands in connivance with local drug personalities are allegedly smuggling marijuana in different forms from these areas going to some parts of Luzon using the major highways of Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province and Benguet as their exit points. 

Marijuana hashish and marijuana oil are also being processed locally in Tinglayan.

Marijuana plants are also reaped, dried, and compacted into bricks and tubular forms and are discreetly transported outside of the region.   Sarmiento said PDEA is working closely with other law enforcement agencies and the local government units to strengthen its anti-illegal drug operations.