GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 Jan) – Government anti-drug agents in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao have seized more than P6 million worth of illegal drugs in 548 anti-drug operations that they launched in the region in 2010.
Intelligence Officer 3 Arce Adam, deputy director for administration of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Region12, said Thursday their operations last year resulted to the recovery of some 20,000 kilos of marijuana and more than 300 grams of metamphetamine hydrocyloride or shabu.
He said some of the recovered shabu were taken from a P20-million worth drug laboratory that was busted by PDEA agents last October in Barangay San Isidro here.
On the other hand, Adam said the bulk of the seized marijuana were from the 16 plantations destroyed by joint elements from the PDEA, Army and local police units in various areas in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces.
“Our operations in the past months were quite successful and we posted significant improvements in terms of accomplishments because of the increased cooperation from civilian informants and local government units. A number of our successful operations last year were actually based on information sent through text messages by concerned residents,” he said.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Out of their 548 anti-drug raids and buy-bust operations last year, Adam said they were able to build up some 467 cases for the 428 drug suspects that they arrested.
But he noted that at least 48 individuals or over 11 percent of the arrested illegal drug suspects in the area last year were minors.
“We’re very much concerned about this trend because it appears that the drug syndicates have resorted to using minors to work for them,” he said.
Under the law, Adam said offending minors are considered immune to any charges and they were mandated to turn them over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for custody and proper counseling.
“We’re just hoping that they eventually reform and not return to their old habits again because we’ll just arrest them again and again until the time that we can be able to charge them,” he said.
Owing to this, Adam said they decided to provide special focus in their campaigns this year on the reduction of the demand for illegal drugs among young people.
He said they will specifically intensify this year their anti-drug awareness and education program for various school to help address the problem. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)