Guv wants arrests in Surigao Norte’s drug havens

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 July) – Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol F. Matugas wants more arrests to curb the illegal drug problem in six municipalities.

This was her marching order during the regular meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting at the Philippine Gateway Hotel here Friday.

“I want more actions to solve this problem in our localities. Let’s not just talk because we’ve been talking for a while but we don’t have the achievements to show. I want the drug pushers, including the big fish, arrested,” she told reporters after the meeting.

Matugas said proliferation of methamphetamine hydrochloride, also known as shabu, is rampant in six towns – Placer, Claver, Tubod, Mainit and Dapa and General Luna.

Provincial board member Myrna M. Romarate said she encouraged all concerned government agencies and different local government units to work for the eradication of illegal drugs.

Her husband, Rep. Guillermo A. Romarate Jr. (Surigao del Norte, 2nd Dist.) who was also present during the meeting, told reporters that he is willing to help in the operations in terms of budget for personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The solon said if there are operations against drug pushers in Surigao del Norte, he wants his hometown, Tubod, town to be cleansed. He served three terms as mayor in the said town.

Matugas said she is frustrated over the PDEA in the Caraga Region because the regional director does not attend meetings, only sending his representative.

“It’s so frustrating. He’s not there when we have big problems,” she lamented.

Matugas had earlier offered an office for PDEA personnel in the city so that they could permanently conduct raids, particularly in hot spots in the different municipalities, including Surigao City.

But she told reporters not to proceed with the plan to enlist the PDEA in her campaign against drugs. “It’s tiring writing letters and getting not even just one response,” the governor said, claiming she has sent several letters already.

But PDEA-Caraga Regional Director Erwin Ogario told MindaNews this he did not receive any letter from the governor since he was installed as officer in charge November last year but admitted this his predecessor did receive the letters.

Ogario said he was absent in the PPOC meeting on Friday because he conducted an organizational meeting of his office at that time.

Ogario said he already launched a series of raids in this city and in Placer town. “Just recently we captured one of the untouchable persons there,” he said.

Ogario did not reveal what particular place they will raid next lest their target may escape and jeopardize the safety of the PDEA agents.

Claver Mayor Eddie Gokiangkee said the problem in his town became rampant since 2010. It was still prevalent when he assumed office last month.

“These are among my priorities. I spoke with local police to launch operations against drugs in my town,” he said.

Gokiangkee said he also requested the PNP provincial office to reassign several police officers in his town who are suspected to be involved in the illegal drug trade. He likewise warned all drug dealers to leave his town.