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Eleazar: ‘Whole-of-gov’t’ approach in war on drugs gaining ground

September 12, 2021 Alfred P. Dalizon 715 views

EleazarTHE Duterte government’s war on drugs is continuously gaining ground with the confiscation of more than P5.5 billion worth of shabu and the neutralization of a major drug trafficking ring being run by a group of rogue Chinese nationals last week, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said yesterday.

The top cop cited the ‘whole-of-government approach’ as key factors in last week’s anti-narcotics operations in Zambales, Bataan and Cavite which led to the killing of four armed Chinese drug smugglers and two of their Filipino distributors as well as the arrest of five others, three of them Chinese nationals too.

Eleazar said the operations are expected to have a ‘very big impact’ on the illegal drug distribution system in the country.

“Even in the time of pandemic, these illegal drugs traffickers are continuously operating. That is why we also have to step up, and our strong points in these operations are the good coordination and interoperability of five law enforcement agencies led by PDEA under our whole-of-government approach against illegal drugs,” Gen. Eleazar said.

Aside from the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) headed by Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva, officers from the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) also took part in last week’s string of successful anti-drug operations.

Amid criticisms against the aggressive illegal drugs operations launched by President Rodrigo Duterte in July 2016, Gen. Eleazar said the effects of the successful illegal drugs operations are already being felt by ordinary Filipinos.

Gen. Eleazar said the successful anti-illegal drugs operations in the past five years already resulted in the unprecedented 64 percent reduction on crime in the country.

The PNP has always maintained that most of the crime incidents in the country are related to illegal drug abuse, a position that was vindicated by the continuous and significant reduction of crime in the country in the last five years.

Gen Eleazar vowed to further step up the campaign against illegal drugs through strong coordination and good working relationship with other government agencies, particularly the PDEA which is the lead agency in the drug war.

“Makakaasa ang ating mga kababayan na magpapatuloy ang aming agresibong kampanya laban sa iligal na droga dahil ang kinabukasan ng ating mga kabataan at ng ating bansa ang nakataya dito,” the PNP chief said.

Last Thursday evening, another ‘intelligence-driven’ operation jointly conducted by agents of the PDEA and the PNP in Bacoor City in Cavite led to the neutralization of four ‘high-value targets’ in the country and the seizure of around 229 kilograms of shabu worth nearly P1.6 billion.

Two of the suspects identified as Basher Pangcoga Bangon, a 59-year old native of Cagayan de Oro City and Danilo Tampogaw Untavar,51, a resident of Datu Ismael, Dasmariñas City, Cavite were killed in a gunfight with officers who conducted the buy-bust operation inside Block 6, Lot 15, Springville Executive 1 Subdivision in Molino 3, Bacoor City 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

Members of the PDEA, PNP Drug Enforcement Group (PNP-DEG) headed by Brigadier Gen. Remus B. Medina, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) under Major Gen. Vicente D. Danao Jr., Police Regional Office 4-A (PRO-4-A) headed by Brig. Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz and the PNP Special Action Force under Major Gen. Felipe R. Natividad were involved in the operation.

Recovered during the operation were 181 kilograms of the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine’ worth P1.25 billion, the buy-bust money and firearms used by the suspects in trading shots with officers.

Brig. Gen. Medina described Bangon as a ‘top-level drug personality serving as a direct contact of a major Chinese drug syndicate operating in the country specifically in Visayas and Mindanao regions.

A follow-up operation in Imus City, Cavite led to the arrest of two other suspects identified as Aldwin Micoleta,47; and his wife Lani Brabante Micoleta,45.

Recovered from the suspects during the sting at Block 6, Lot 2, Topacio Street, Phase 8, Bgy. Magdalo, Bahayang Pag-asa in Imus City 9:15 p.m. Thursday were an estimated 48 kilograms of shabu worth P331.2 million.

Villanueva said the two arrested suspects are suspected cohorts of Bangon who act as the syndicate’s distributors of shabu in Metro Manila and Calabarzon.

The official said they are still investigating the four suspects’ connection to the activities of a gang of Chinese nationals they neutralized in separate operations in Zambales and Bataan on Tuesday.

Four of the Chinese nationals were killed in a shootout with government agents while three were arrested. Confiscated from the suspects were a total of 580 kilograms of shabu worth P3.944 billion.

The successive anti-drug operations spearheaded by the PDEA were the biggest undertaken by the Duterte administration so far this year in line with the government’s massive war on drugs.

Gen. Eleazar said that an estimated 80 kilograms of the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine’ valued at P544 million were seized during a hot pursuit operation in Bataan where three of the Chinese suspects were arrested.

The Bataan operation was a follow-up to an earlier anti-narcotics raid in Zambales which resulted in the killing of four armed Chinese nationals and the recovery of 500 kilograms of shabu worth P3.4 billion.

PDEA Deputy Director General for Operations, Assistant Secretary Gregorio R. Pimentel said that one of the slain suspects identified as Xu Youha alias ‘Taba’ was monitored to be the one talking to their contacts abroad.

Villanueva said that Xuwas reportedly the main contact of an international drugs syndicate. He was last monitored to have contacted a member of the international syndicate abroad and this resulted in the buy-bust in Zambales.

Members of the Police Regional Office 3 (PRO3) under Brig. Gen. Valeriano T. de Leon and the Zambales Police Provincial Office headed by Colonel Romano V. Cardiño joined the 3-month-long surveillance mission in the province targeting the Chinese drug personalities.

Cardiño said the suspects were found in possession of the huge volume of shabu contained in 25 blue sacks with Chinese markings.

During the operation, an undercover officer managed to buy P12 million worth of shabu from Tan. However, the suspect fired shots at the poseur when he sensed the ongoing entrapment operation prompting back-up operatives to return fire.