Police uproots marijuana plantations in SouthCot

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 23 Jan) – Police personnel in T’boli town in South Cotabato destroyed an additional 10,000 hills of marijuana that were uprooted in a series of operations in the last several weeks in upland plantations in the area, an official said on Thursday.

Supt. Jemuel Siason, T’boli police station chief, said they burned the recovered marijuana in a simple ceremony on Wednesday held in front of the T’boli municipal hall.

“These were part of our second phase of recoveries that were valued at around P15 million,” he said in a radio interview.

On Wednesday, joint elements from the T’boli police station, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Region 12, Police Regional Office 12’s Regional Public Safety Battalion and the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion launched another raid on a marijuana plantation in Sitio Mala in Barangay Datal Dlanag.

The operatives only found a newly-harvested marijuana plantation but Siason said they have identified the personalities who were allegedly behind the illegal activity.

The official said the operation was the first of a series that they have scheduled this year for their continuing marijuana eradication drive in the area.

He said that their operations last year yielded around P30 million worth of marijuana, some of which were considered as of high quality and reportedly exported by illegal drug traders to Malaysia.

Most of the recovered marijuana were found in upland plantations in Barangays Tudok and Salacafe, which were part of the 102,350-hectare Allah Valley Protected Landscape.

Barangay Salacafe is the closest village to Mt. Melebengoy (formerly Parker) and critical crater-lake Holon (formerly Maughan).

“We continue to receive some tips regarding the existence of marijuana plantations in these areas and were currently verifying them,” Siason said.

The official said they will not slow down with their marijuana eradication drive until they eventually clear the area.

The local governments of T’boli and South Cotabato have been backing the operations in the area by providing incentive to operatives and informants.

T’boli Mayor Dibu Tuan launched last year a livelihood program for upland residents to veer them away from planting marijuana.

Under the program, the municipal government initially distributed farm animals and other agricultural inputs to former marijuana planters in the area.

In support of the initiative, the provincial government is currently developing rubber plantations covering 111 hectares in Barangay Salacafe and the neighboring areas.

Land Bank of the Philippines earlier approved a P10-million financing grant for the initiative, which will mainly involve marginalized farmers within the project area.