Security problems force drug traffickers to "slow down"

Rene Orbe, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Region 12 director, said the heightened security measures implemented by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces along the national highways in key areas of the region have limited the movement of drug traffickers from their alleged supply base in the Cotabato City area.

“The presence of checkpoints and the random inspections along the major highways in the region made them think twice about their movements,” he said.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Cotabato, Tacurong and Kidapawan.

Orbe said that since security was tightened with the resumption of armed skirmishes between government and MILF forces, intelligence reports from the field showed that the volume of drug supplies distributed in the area have gone down, specifically metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.

He said illegal drug suppliers reportedly managed to move just a few grams of repacked shabu to their couriers as they tried to avoid getting caught in the checkpoints.

“In our previous monitoring, there were shipments of 100 to 200 grams of shabu but now they're just moving several five-gram packs,” he said.

Orbe said Cotabato City, where he was previously assigned, remains the top source of shabu in the region and the neighboring areas.

He said the drug traffickers have been using passenger vans in transporting their contrabands.

“From Cotabato City, these illegal drugs are shipped to Isulan and Tacurong City, Kidapawan City, Sto. Nino and Koronadal City and all the way to the bigger markets in General Santos and Davao,” he said.

Orbe noted his office has been regularly coordinating with other law enforcement units in the region, especially those assigned at the checkpoints, to help monitor the movement of illegal drug supplies.

“So far we have accomplished recoveries and arrests of suspected drug traffickers through the help of police and army personnel manning these checkpoints,” he said. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)