AMID an order given by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar for them to continue their all-out ‘search-and-destroy’ operations against secret marijuana plantations, members of the Cordillera Police Regional Office since last May have already burned over P100 million worth of fully-grown cannabis plants and seedlings, the Journal Group learned.
The operations of the Cordillera police headed by Brigadier Gen. Ronald O. Lee, launched with the support of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Armed Forces are all aimed at locating clandestine marijuana sites in the region and arresting all efforts to smuggle the prohibited crops to Metro Manila, Cordillera and Calabarzon regions.
On Friday last week, some P46 million worth of marijuana plants and seedlings were destroyed in operations led by members of the Cordillera Police Regional Intelligence Division, Regional Special Operations Group and Regional Drug Enforcement Group.
Gen. Eleazar said members of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) and the Benguet Police Provincial Office also joined the massive marijuana eradication drive which was triggered by information sent to the Cordillera RID regarding the presence of marijuana plantations in Sitio Palwa, Barangay Sagpat in Kibungan, Benguet.
The ensuing operation led in the uprooting and burning of over 13,000 pieces of fully-grown cannabis as well as 12 sacks of dried marijuana leaves.
“PNP alone cannot accomplish the arduous task of effectively curbing the drug menace in the country, but with the continuous support of the community, we become strong allies in our battle against illegal drugs,” said Gen. Eleazar as he renewed his call for the public to help them win the war on drugs.
On Thursday last week, nearly P3 million worth of marijuana were seized by combined operatives of the Cordillera police and the PDEA in two separate anti-narcotics operations in the region.
Brig. Gen. Lee said that an operation in Sadanga, Mountain Province resulted in the arrest of Rodeo Cacapit, a 21-year old resident of 1206 Kagitinan Street in Tondo, Manila who was described as a big-time marijuana trafficker in the region.
Recovered from the possession of the suspects in Sadanga were 15 marijuana bricks weighing around 12.8 kilos and valued at nearly P1.5 million.
Lee said members of the Sadanga Municipal Police Station, the Mt. Provincial PPO and the local PDEA intercepted the suspect while on board a passenger bus in Sitio Ampawilen in Poblacion, Sadanga.
The official said that members of the Kibungan MPS and the Benguet PPO also stormed a clandestine marijuana plantation in Sitio Dalipey, Bgy. Tacadang in Kibungan where they uprooted and destroyed an estimated P1.3 million worth of fully-grown cannabis plants and seedlings.
Gen. Eleazar has commended the Cordillera police force for their significant accomplishments in the campaign against drugs, criminality and insurgency in the region.
In particular, the PNP chief made mention of how the Cordillera police have been greatly succeeding in their own war on drugs specifically when it comes to going after secret marijuana plantations and cannabis and shabu traffickers in the region.
“We are aware that some parts of Cordillera are naturally-conducive environment for marijuana plants to grow that is why we are warning those who engage in this prohibited trade that we will intensify our police operations to thwart your illegal activities,” Gen. Eleazar said.
“We know how resourceful these marijuana growers have been, but the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency are relentless in our pursuit under the Internal Cleanliness Policy as our share on the government’s aspiration of drug/crime-free country,” said Gen. Eleazar as he lauded the Cordillera police force for their anti-drug accomplishments.
Two weeks ago, Cordillera policemen overrun four clandestine marijuana plantation sites in Tinglayan, Kalinga where they uprooted and destroyed over P13 million worth of fully-grown cannabis plants and seedlings.
According to the top cop, the Cordillera police conducted the operation in the mountainous part of Bgy. Loccong in Tinglayan municipality where they burned the marijuana plants on site.
Lee, a member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Tanglaw-Diwa’ Class of 1992 who used to command the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) has ordered a stepped-up ‘search-and-destroy’ operation against all clandestine marijuana production sites in the region which remain as the top source of cannabis being smuggled to Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.
“We are fully complying with the directive of Gen. Eleazar to see to it that our summer offensive against marijuana cultivators and distributors in the entire Cordillera region will be without let-up,” said Brig. Gen. Lee.
“Thru this, we want to thwart efforts by drug syndicates to flood Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon region with cannabis which they see as a huge alternative to shabu. In fact, we have intercepted some suspects known to be smuggling an average of 40-50 kilos of marijuana bricks to Metro Manila this year,” he told the Journal Group.
Last April 9, Cordillera policemen, joined by operatives from the PDEA and the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) overrun nine clandestine cannabis plantations in Barangay Saclit in Sadanga, Mountain Province and in Buscalan, Kalinga, where they uprooted and destroyed an estimated 25,000 fully-grown marijuana plants and seedlings worth around P5 million.
Brig. Gen. Lee said he has ordered the police offices of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province to intensify their war versus marijuana amid the interception of huge volume of marijuana being smuggled in the National Capital Region and Central Luzon since last year.
Lee said checkpoints have been placed in strategic parts of the region and those passing thru Baguio City to intercept motor vehicles and people trying to transport marijuana to Metro Manila and its nearby provinces.
Last month, Cordillera policemen uprooted and destroyed an estimated P14 million worth of fully-grown cannabis plants and seedlings in Tabuk City, Kalinga.
The official said they have reasons to believe that some drug syndicates are trying to smuggle cannabis to Metro Manila hoping to replace shabu.
At present, marijuana remains the 2nd most abused drug in the country next to shabu. It costs around P5,000 a kilo in the underground market. Since the 70s, Cordillera has been known as a main producer of marijuana in the country due to its cold climate which is highly-favorable for growing cannabis.