Abalos: ‘Whole-of-gov’t’ approach led to P4B shabu haul in Baguio

March 30, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 207 views

DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” C. Abalos Jr. on Thursday said a “whole-of-government” approach in fighting illegal drugs in the country was behind the seizure of 575 kilograms of shabu worth nearly P4 billion in Baguio City.

The DILG chief thanked all the participating units – from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), the Cordillera Police Regional Office, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group (PNP-DEG) – which worked together to find the huge shabu storage facility where 51-year-old Chinese national with the alias “Tan” was arrested.

“I want to thank all the participating units that had worked all together to attain a whole of nation approach in the fight against illegal drugs amid the President’s order for the PNP and other law enforcement agencies to go against high-level drug syndicates,” Abalos said.

The DILG chief was joined by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, PNP Deputy Chief for Operations Major General Jonnel C. Estomo, NCRPO director Major Gen. Edgar Alan O. Okubo, PDEA chair Director General Moro Virgilio M. Lazo, Cordillera Police Regional Office director Brigadier Gen. David K. Peredo, and Northern Police District director Brig. Gen. Rogelio I. Peñones Jr. in supervising the raid at the “shabu warehouse” located at Purok Irisan, Baguio City.

It was, so far, the largest shabu haul to be made in the Cordillera region by the police force.

“This successful operation is a testament to the effectiveness of our ‘Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan’ (BIDA) program, which seeks to promote awareness and vigilance among the public to help combat the drug problem in our country. We commend the joint efforts of the PNP and allied agencies, and we will continue to support their efforts to rid our communities of illegal drugs,” Abalos said.

PNP Chief General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. also commended the operatives for their successful operation. “The seizure of this large quantity of shabu is a significant achievement in our fight against illegal drugs. We call on everyone to join us in this fight for a drug-free Philippines,” he said.

The top cop also emphasized the obligation of the police force to uphold human rights in carrying out their duties.

According to the official, the successful anti-drug raid stemmed from the relentless surveillance operations of the NCRPO formerly headed by Maj. Gen. Estomo and now Maj. Gen. Okubo to locate the possible storage site of a big drug shipment in the country.

In coordination with the PDEA, PNP agents managed to locate the drug storage facility. “Due to the unfavorable operating environment of these illegal drug syndicates in Metro Manila and the rigorous anti-illegal drugs operation of NCRPO, these drug syndicates had no other choice but to hide these illegal drugs to Baguio City, which is known to have very low cases of drug affectation, making it conducive for less likelihood of detection,” said Okubo.

Estomo said that prior to the raid, their intelligence officers have uncovered a plot by a major Chinese drug trafficking syndicate to distribute the drugs in the Luzon area.

The PNP, headed by Azurin, will take custody of the huge drug contraband and will launch a further investigation to identify other cohorts of the arrested Chinese national.

The PDEA was tasked to undertake a drug profiling to establish the DNA of the said drugs to aid in the conduct of follow-up operations. The recovered drugs were hidden in green tin packs with Chinese markings very similar to those recovered by the PNP and the PDEA in previous anti-narcotics operations in the country.

Arrested during the raid at Baguio City early morning Wednesday was the Chinese national described as a “chef” from Mainland China.

The Cordillera Police Regional Office conducted the raid following information from the Office of the PNP Deputy Chief for Operations and former NCRPO chief, Maj. Gen. Estomo, the Journal Group, learned.

It turned out that the NCRPO intelligence division under Estomo previously got a tip regarding the presence of a big-time foreign drug syndicate planning to distribute a huge volume of shabu in Metro Manila.

However, the syndicate apparently changed its plan and instead brought their contraband to Baguio City after feeling the heat of a massive police anti-narcotics operation in the metropolis during the time of Estomo and, lately, his successor, Okubo.

The officers, who were equipped with body-worn cameras, stormed the Chinese man’s residence on the strength of a search warrant for violation of Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 issued by Judge Rufus Malecdan Jr. of the Baguio City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Tuesday.

The raid led to the discovery of a huge volume of drugs and the arrest of the Chinese national believed to be among those who transported the shabu to Baguio City.

Peredo said that local barangay and media representatives and the Department of Justice (DOJ) Prosecutor Philip Caesar Castel witnessed the conduct of the search.

The arrested Chinese national and the recovered huge volume of the so-called “poor man’s cocaine” were initially taken to the Baguio City Police Station 9 for safekeeping and further investigation.

The suspect will be facing non-bailable charges for illegal possession of prohibited drugs under RA 9165.

It was the latest major drug bust made by police authorities under the Marcos Jr. administration.