GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 September)– Police operatives in T’boli town in South Cotabato province have destroyed around P1.5 million worth of “export-grade” marijuana that were seized in a series of raids in an upland village there.
Supt. Jemuel Siason, T’boli police chief, said Thursday the recovered marijuana comprised 20,000 seedlings and 25 fully grown hills that were found in several plantations in the mountainous areas of Barangay Tudok.
He said they launched the raids on Monday and Tuesday after confirming the existence of the plantations from local informants.
The seized marijuana were destroyed by T’boli police personnel following a ceremonial burning held in front of the municipal hall.
Citing results of the laboratory examination conducted by the Police Regional Office 12’s crime laboratory here, Siason said the marijuana seedlings and plants planted in T’boli were considered as of the “high grade type.”
He said their leaves specifically have “seven fingers” and the plants’ maturity could reportedly reach 17 years.
“We received reports that some planters have dealt them to traders who were exporting to Malaysia,” he said in a radio interview.
Siason said they are currently determining the possible origin of the marijuana seedlings and if there are other existing plantations in other upland villages in T’boli.
Last month, T’boli police personnel and elements of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion also uprooted around 800 marijuana hills in separate plantations in Sitio Kifak, Barangay Datal Bob and at a portion of Barangay Datal Dlanag.
Last year, South Cotabato police operatives recovered around P5.4 million worth of marijuana in various portions of Barangay Salacafe, specifically in sitios Culi and Blow.
Meantime, the provincial government of South Cotabato has committed some financial assistance to the local government of T’boli in support of its continuing crackdown against marijuana plantations in the area.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance Fuentes said they will release an initial P100,000 to the municipal government and the T’boli police station to assist their operations.
“We will also be giving incentives to those who can provide us with some information about the suspected cultivators and pushers in the area,” she said in a statement.
Fuentes said the provincial government will work with T’boli officials for the implementation of livelihood projects in areas where the marijuana plantations were discovered.
T’boli Mayor Dibu Tuan initially pushed for the launching of an animal dispersal program and other viable farm ventures in the area.
“We will try to find alternative livelihood opportunities for those who were affected by the campaign to ensure that they will not go back to their illegal activities,” the governor added.(Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)