CHINESE, African and Mexican drug syndicates are facilitating the supply of illegal drug users in the country which is estimated to be around 3.7 million as of June this year, the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said.
In his 100-day report on the war against illegal drugs, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro S. Lapeña said the voluntary surrender during the period of 733,635 drug personalities, which comprise 24 percent of the 3.7 million drug users nationwide, is considered a ‘breakthrough in the history of drug law enforcement in the country.’
The confessed drug addicts and users surrendered to the PNP after Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa ordered the conduct of the PNP Project: Double Barrel composed of Oplan: Tokhang and Project: High-Value Target. Nearly half of the surrenderers are known users of shabu or the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine.’
Lapeña said that based on the average consumption per intake of shabu of 0.04 gram, these shabu users consume an estimated 5.425 metric tons of shabu worth P27 billion per year.
Since July 1, the day Gen. Dela Rosa launched the PNP Anti-Illegal Drug Campaign Plan called Project: Double Barrel, police have already conducted nearly 23,700 anti-narcotics operations which led to the arrest of over 22,700 known drug personalities and the killing of nearly 1,400 armed drug traffickers during gunfights with arresting officers.
The conduct of the PNP Oplan: Tokhang during the period has also resulted in the surrender of around 734,000 confessed drug personalities composed of more than 680,000 shabu or marijuana users and over 53,000 drug traffickers. Police have already visited nearly 1.7 million houses since the Oplan: Tokhang was implemented.
These operations, however, have cost the lives of 13 policemen and three soldiers and injuries to 38 other police officers and eight Armed Forces personnel.
Lapeña said that distribution of illegal drugs to users is at times completed using minors as couriers to avoid apprehension of drug traffickers. Criminal syndicates nowadays use juveniles in their illicit operations because under the law, minors cannot be criminally prosecuted, the PDEA chair explained.
The official said that from 2011 to June 30 this year, 956 minors were rescued from involvement in drug transactions and were subsequently endorsed to local Social Welfare and Development offices nationwide.
The youngest of them was a 6-year-old boy rescued from pushing shabu in North Cotabato.
Lapeña said that in order to assess the degree of drug affectation in the country, they are fully monitoring the affectation in the barangay level.
As of June this year, the official said that a total of 13,661 barangays or 32.5 percent of the country’s total 42,036 barangays nationwide were considered drug-affected.
The most affected region is the National Capital Region with 92.4 percent or 1,577 of the total 1,706 barangays in Metro Manila affected by drugs.
The drug problem is further aggravated by the involvement of unscrupulous government officials in the illegal drug trade. From 2011 to June this year, 706 government officials composed of 218 elected officials, 309 government employees and 179 law enforcers were arrested for involvement in illegal drugs.
The highest-ranking law enforcer arrested during the period was Marine Lieutenant Colonel Ferdinand Marcelino who was arrested inside a major shabu laboratory smashed by joint PDEA and PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group agents in Sta. Cruz, Manila last January while the highest-ranked elected official caught was a provincial board member of the 1st District of Misamis Oriental who was arrested in January 2013.
National Capital Region Police Office director Chief Superintendent Oscar D. Albayalde had expressed belief that amid findings that many barangay captains in Metro Manila have really done nothing to stop the drug scourge and have given them ‘screened’ list of known drug personalities in their communities excluding the names of their relatives or friends and zeroed in on their rivals and their supporters.
Albayalde said that in Manila alone, which has more than 13 million population, the previous drug list they got contained 11,940 names of known drug pushers and users. He said that they have neutralized majority of the suspects but have come up with a new list of 41,000 targets which are now being monitored as part of their enforcement of Oplan: Tokhang and Project: High-Value Target.
On Friday last week, seven suspected drug personalities led by a barangay captain in Quiapo, Manila, were killed in firefights with the Manila Police District which launched a massive anti-illegal drug raid in the sprawling compound which has gained the notoriety of being a drug haven, said MPD director Senior Supt. Joel Napoleon M. Coronel.