Illegal drug trade thrives in Surigao Norte town – official

ALEGRIA, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/28 July) – The illegal drug trade has continued to proliferate in Alegria town in Surigao del Norte, Vice Mayor Uldarico S. Uriarte, Jr. on Monday said.

He said this is one of the local problems that are always tackled in every meeting of the Municipal Peace and Order Council.

Uriarte, however, could not say how rampant the drug problem in the town was.

He also denied that town officials were involved in the illegal drug trade.

“I’m 99.9 percent sure that no public official in town is involved in the illegal drug trade. I don’t know with the police officers in the town,” he said.

MindaNews also asked Mayor Dominador M. Esma for comment but he declined to give any statement.

Last July 10, New Peoples’ Army rebels raided the municipal police station in Alegria, wounding two police officers and a civilian. Two communist rebels were also killed in a shootout with responding policemen from Kitcharao town in Agusan del Norte.

Earlier, Ka Maria Malaya, spokesperson of the rebel group for Northeastern Mindanao said that the alleged proliferation of the illegal drug trade is one of the reasons they raided the police station.

Alegria police chief Inspector Renato O. Acelo said he could comment on the issue since he was newly assigned to the police station.

“I assumed office here three days after the attack. I heard that drug problem is the reason why the NPA attacked this station but I can’t give comments,” he said.

MindaNews also tried to contact Erwin Ogario, regional director of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Caraga but no to avail. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)