War on drugs in Davao Region gains headway in 2018

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DAVAO CITY – Law enforcement agencies led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Region 11 (PDEA-11) continue to amass victories in 2018 in its fight against the illegal drug menace.

PDEA-11 Director Antonio Rivera said the government’s holistic anti-drug campaign has driven the prices of illegal drugs–in particular “shabu”–down as the supply dwindles.

To address the demand side, Rivera said users are admitted in either community-based rehabilitation program or in reformation facilities.

Rivera said that as of November this year, the price of shabu–the most popular illegal drug of choice among users–continues to spike to PHP12,000 from PHP6,800 per gram.

Marijuana, he said, has increased by as much as PHP140 per gram; ecstasy at PHP1,700 per tablet; and cocaine at PHP5,300 per gram.

“The prices increased because of the scarcity of supply,” the PDEA-11 official noted.

Anti-drug operations

Rivera said the agency has enjoyed robust collaboration with local police units–including the Task Force Davao in Davao City–in terms of buy-busts, test buys, and search warrant operations.

During these operations, authorities seized a total of 2.37 kilos of shabu from January to November this year. The quantity is higher compared to the 1.16 kilos seized during the same period last year.

Anti-drug operations also netted some 48 kilos of marijuana, a significant increase from last year’s 5.2 kilos.

PDEA-11 records showed that agency-led operations numbered 1,058 from January to November this year, indicating an increase from 693 in the same period last year.

The operations resulted in the arrest of 1,422 persons involved in illegal drugs peddling.

Rivera expressed concern that a number of minors formed part of the arrested individuals this year.

The youngest of these, he said, was a 13-year-old female suspect, followed by two 14-year olds, seven 15-year olds, 10 16-year olds, and 19 17-year olds.

“The number of minors increased because they are being used by pushers,” he said.

PDEA-led anti-drug operations also netted four elected officials, three law enforcers, and nine government employees.

Their arrest, Rivera said, showed that government does not discriminate between street peddlers and persons with influence and authority.

“The government does not tolerate anyone involved in the illegal drug trade,” he said, noting that the number of law enforcers arrested for illegal drugs this year has also gone down. He did not elaborate.

As of November this year, PDEA filed a total of 1,635 cases related to illegal drugs.

Community involvement

Around the region, River credited the government’s success in part to the assistance of village officials through the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC).

“The fight against illegal drugs starts in the communities and ends in the communities,” he pointed out.

As of November this year, he said there have been 81 barangays in Region 11 cleared of illegal drugs.

Of these, 49 are in Davao Oriental, 17 in Compostela Valley Province, eight in Davao del Norte, and seven in Davao del Sur.

In Davao City, Rivera said they are looking to declare at least five villages “drug-cleared.”

For a barangay to be declared “drug-free”, Rivera said there should be no presence or drug personalities in the area, and no buy-bust operation conducted, or search warrant implemented within three months. Drug surrenderers, he added, should have also undergone rehabilitation and after-care program.

“Within three months if these areas complied with the requirements, then they can apply for barangay drug clearing and it will be validated by us, the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) and the Department of Health,” he said.

So far, Rivera said all local anti-drug councils in the region are functioning, “otherwise officials can be cited administratively by the DILG.

Next year, Rivera looks forward to the establishment of halfway homes for reformed drug dependents.-PNA

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