469 gov’t workers arrested in anti-drug campaign

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 March) – At least 469 of the 123,648 suspects arrested during the first 21 months of the Duterte administration’s controversial anti-illegal drugs campaign were government workers, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) spokesperson Derrick Arnold Carreon said.

The number included 199 elected officials, 45 uniformed personnel and 225 civil employees.

A police officer examines pieces of aluminum foil and sachets of shabu while the suspect covers his face in the background at a police station in Divisoria, Cagayan de Oro City. Police said shabu or “poor man’s cocaine” is still the no. 1 drug for substance abusers in Cagayan de Oro. MindaNews file photo

They were arrested from July 1, 2016 to March 20, 2018 for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Carreon said during a press briefing in Malacañan Palace on Tuesday.

He said authorities conducted 91,704 anti-drug operations during the same period resulting in the death of 4,075 suspects.

The PDEA, police and other law enforcement agencies also destroyed 189 illegal drug facilities –180 drug dens and nine shabu laboratories – in joint operations, he added.

The total amount of illegal drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals and laboratory equipment confiscated from July 1, 2016 to March 20, 2018 reached P19.67 billion. The 2,620 kilograms of shabu confiscated comprised the largest chunk at P13.46 billion, he said.

A total of 649 minors were rescued from illegal drugs nationwide, he said.

He added they will launch the “Balay Silangan” and “Gawad Sagisag ng Tagumpay Laban sa Iligal na Droga,” which will be awarded to local government units supporting the implementation of harm reduction program.

Philippine National Police spokesperson Chief Insp. John Bulalacao said the they have continued to participate in the anti-illegal drugs operations since December 5, 2017 under the lead of PDEA.

He said the police force sustained the momentum of the campaign by addressing the drug problem on two strategic fronts: supply reduction by hitting hard high-value targets, traffickers and suppliers, and demand reduction by persuasive dialogue with drug suspects through Project Tokhang.

Oplan Tokhang, derived from the Cebuano words “Toktok” and “Hangyo”(knock and plead), was halted in October 2017 after drawing criticisms from human rights groups but it was re-launched on January 29, 2018.

The PNP recorded 2,467 drug-related incidents, 715 of which were considered solved while 1,752 were still under investigation. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)