Lean but mean, PDEA, PNP drug enforcement group doing a good job

June 4, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 184 views

Alfred DalizonI salute and doff my hat to officers and men of two premier law enforcement agencies: the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police for doing a good job in the war on drugs amid the usual criticisms from perennial government critics, human rights groups in particular.

It’s really a case of a ‘damn if you do, damn if you don’t’ but what the heck. The fact will always remain that the PDEA under Director General Wilkins Villanueva and the PNP now under its Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant General Vic Danao Jr. really have done a fine job in combating illegal drug trafficking and abuse in the country during the six years of the Duterte administration.

The latest RealNumbersPH record will tell. It says that from July 1, 2016 to last March 31, the Duterte government accounted for P88.83 billion worth of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and other essential chemicals including 11.78 tons of shabu, 163,295 pieces of Ecstasy tablets, 530.24 kilos of cocaine; and 10.16 tons of dried marijuana leaves.

The amount of the shabu confiscated by the government during the period alone totaled P76.55 billion. the items included PHP76.55 billion worth of shabu. So far, PDEA and PNP authorities have destroyed 8,177.79 kilograms of shabu which is otherwise known as the ‘poor man’s cocaine,’ 4,226.08 kilograms of marijuana, 21.93 kilos of the designed drug called ‘Ecstasy,’ 534.20 kilograms of cocaine and 3,483.67 kilos of other dangerous drugs.

On Thursday, Vice President-elect Sara Duterte Carpio led the destruction of an estimated billion worth of dangerous drugs seized by the PDEA and the PNP in what turned out to be the biggest volume of shabu and other prohibited substances incinerated in a special facility in Cavite.

They include 2,076.523 kilograms of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride or shabu, 426.479 kilograms of marijuana, and 18.357 kilograms of MDMA or the designer drug called Ecstasy. Every Filipino must know that the multi-billion worth of drugs were destroyed thru thermal decomposition or thermolysis which breaks down chemical compounds with the use of tremendous heat. At 1,000 degrees centigrade, all dangerous drugs are totally decomposed or broken down.

It is also interesting to note that since 2020, the PDEA under Villanueva of PMA ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988 has already destroyed an estimated ₱34.635 billion worth of illegal drugs and controlled precursors and essential chemicals being used to manufacture shabu in compliance to President Duterte’s order to prevent possible ‘recycling’ of the evidence.

The 1st was held on August 21, 2020 wherein an estimated ₱13.36 billion worth of prohibited drugs were destroyed; followed by the destruction of ₱6.25 billion worth of illegal substances on October 15, 2020; ₱7.51 billion worth of dangerous drugs on December 3, 2020; and another ₱5.36 billion worth of drugs incinerated last January 20.

During the period, a total of 1,156 drug dens and 19 clandestine shabu laboratories were also smashed by the government. Of the 15,096 ‘HVT’s arrested, 6,768 were accounted for as a result of high-impact operations; 4,043 were ‘target-listed personalities; 1,670 were drug den maintainers; 797 were drug group leaders/members; 529 were government employees; 402 were elected officials; 364 were foreigners, majority of them Chinese nationals; 295 were in the most wanted lists; 126 uniformed personnel; 78 were armed group members; and 24 were considered as prominent personalities or celebrities/professionals.

Another 341,494 other individuals involved in illegal drugs were also hauled to jail by the PDEA and the PNP during the period. At the same time, a total of 4,372 minors broken down into 2,635 pushers; 1,004 possessors; 453 users; 246 visitors of drugs dens; 10 drug den maintainers; 18 drug den employees; three marijuana cultivators, one secret shabu lab employee; and two runners were also accounted for by the government during the period in review.

With those huge accomplishments, what the PDEA and the PNP in particular its Drug Enforcement Group needs is to get the attention of the incoming Bongbong Marcos administration when it comes to further building-up its capabilities and manpower.

There is a big need for the President-elect and both Houses of Congress to ensure that the PDEA and the PNP-DEG will get the much-needed ‘move, shoot, communicate and investigate’ capabilities to counter moneyed drug traffickers specifically jailed drug lords and their cohorts in the outside world, foreign countries included.

Apart from providing our anti-narcotics agents with more fast cars and SUVs they need to trail ‘high-value targets’ once they go to posh hotels and casinos or enter SLEX, NLEX, SCTEX and other major highways, the incoming government should also provide our anti-narcotics agencies with adequate funds to buy information from syndicate ‘insiders.’

Apart from that, our undercover officers and members of raiding teams must be provided with adequate body protection specifically top-level bullet-proof vests and head gears since there is always the possibility that defiant drug dealers will fire at them once cornered.

Let me tell you the case of a PNP-DEG agent who nearly died in an anti-narcotics operation in Zamboanga City last February 25. It turned out that the suspect who yielded four kilos of shabu worth P27.2 million fired shots at the DEG team about to arrest him. One of the agents got hit by a bullet at the back of his head although luckily, the bullet merely sliced off part of his skin. The suspect was eventually shot dead by officers.

There is also the case of another PNP-DEG operative who was gunned down while conducting an official surveillance mission in Mandaluyong City last April 28. The poor brave officer was shot by two motorcycle-riding suspects, one of them eventually killed in a hot pursuit operation.

The PNP-DEG under Brig. Gen. Peralta sine last February has already accounted for almost P800 million worth of shabu and other illegal drugs amid an order from Lt. Gen. Danao to continue an unrelenting campaign against illegal drugs.

Records will show that since last February, the PNP-DEG conducted 295 anti-drug operations which led in the arrest of 338 suspects and the killing of three armed drug traffickers. The unit also seized more than P783 million worth of shabu and other prohibited drugs amid the pandemic.

PDEA’s Villanueva said that since July 2016, 11 PDEA agents have been killed in action while another 34 were wounded. I believe that the number of PNP dead and wounded as a result of anti-narcotics operations since 2016 could be much bigger.

However, the two agencies won’t be stopped by the threats posed by drug smugglers, traffickers and their ilk. In fact, the two agencies have partnered with other law enforcement agencies in conducting successful ‘intelligence-driven’ operations this year alone.

On Thursday morning, two simultaneous PDEA-led operations in Cavite province resulted in the arrest of five top drug trafficking targets and the confiscation of some 80 kilograms of shabu worth P544 million as well as the discovery of a small drug laboratory inside Camella Homes in Dasmariñas City.

It turned out that some concerned citizens reported to the ‘Isumbong Mo Kay Wilkins’ hotline that their neighboring house could be being used in illegal drug activities with its occupants only staying there for a very short time during midnight and the wee hours of the day and using different motor vehicles.

Following a series of surveillance operations, the PDEA discovered that indeed, the house is being used as a drug den and a small-scale clandestine laboratory where some 60 kilos of shabu as well as various chemicals and lab equipment being used to manufacture the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine’ were discovered.

That’s honest-to-goodness intelligence operations triggered by tips from a concerned citizenry.