MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency conducted 3,476 operations, seized P228.81 million worth of drugs and “non-drug” evidence, and arrested 1,321 suspects but recorded no deaths, in a report released Wednesday, December 27, on the first 100 days of its director general, Aaron Aquino.
The report covers the period from September 12, when Aquino took over the PDEA from now Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, to December 20.
A month into Aquino’s stint, on October 11, President Rodrigo Duterte named PDEA the sole agency for his war on drugs, removing the Philippine National Police from the campaign — for the second time — because of criticisms over extrajudicial killings, particularly the successive deaths of teenagers.
The first time Duterte took the dug war from the PNP was in January following revelations policemen were involved in the kidnapping and murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, who was strangled dead right inside Camp Crame.
But, like the first time, Duterte returned the PNP to the anti-drug war on December 5. This time, though, he retained the PDEA as lead agency.
During Aquino’s first hundred days, PDEA seized 36,705.61 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride, or “shabu,” 16,629.46 grams of dried marijuana leaves, 4,343 marijuana seedlings, 50,000 grams of marijuana stalks, 1,183.46 grams of cocaine, 54 pieces of ecstasy, and 1.10 of GHB ( also known as the ‘date rape drug’ or liquid ecstasy).
In sum, the agency filed 2,063 drug cases.
But despite a severe lack of personnel, even during the period it was the exclusive anti-drug agency, the PDEA said it conducted 2,214 operations, arresting 771 suspects, seizing P176.83 million in drug and non-drug evidence — 26,479.31 grams of shabu, 11,724.47 grams of dried marijuana leaves, 117,835 marijuana plants, 4,343 marijuana seedlings, 50,000 grams of marijuana stalks, 1,183.46 grams of cocaine, 54 pieces of ecstasy, and 1.10 ml of GHB — and filing 1,448 drug cases.
The agency also managed to arrest 331 “high-value targets,” including six foreigners, 15 elected officials, seven uniformed personnel, 21 government employees, 52 drug group members, three armed group members, 19 “listed personalities”, 24 drug den maintainers, and 184 others.
“The highest ranking elected official arrested was the municipal mayor of Maasim, Saranggani Province during the implementation of a search warrant on October 6, 2017 that resulted in the seizure of one kilo of shabu,” the agency said.
“Another arrested HVT is a celebrity who yielded 20 grams of shabu during a buy-bust operation at BF Homes, Parañaque City,” it added.
The PDEA was also responsible for the November 6 search operation at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City that led t the confiscation of 183 grams of shabu, drug paraphernalia and other contraband from the cell of convict Yu Yuk Lai. That same day, her daughter, Diana Yu, was arrested in San Miguel, Manila and 682.92 kilos of shabu seized from her.
The agency also nabbed two Nigerians in Cavite, a Colombian drug mule intercepted with 79 pellets of cocaine in his stomach, and 11 suspects, including a student, caught with drugs at the Seda Hotel in Bonifacio Global City.
The Barangay Drug Clearing Program, also saw 547 villages throughout the country declared drug-free over Aquino’s first 100 days. Also declared drug-free was Romblon province and Tacloban City.
To improve PDEA’s efforts, the agency said Aquino has laid down the following priorities:
- Recruitment of at least 500 Drug Enforcement Officers (DEOs) yearly
- Creation of 81 Provincial Offices and 5 District Offices to increase the Agency’s visibility at the grassroots level
- Procurement of additional firepower, mobility and communication equipment
- Further strengthening of partnerships with local and international counterparts
- Close coordination with Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for joint operations in Philippine high-seas to prevent shipside smuggling
- Establishment of PDEA offices in 13 major seaports in the country to provide visibility and immediate response to anti-drug operations
- Creation of airport inter-agency drug interdiction task groups at international airports
- Increase of K9 dogs for deployment to different vulnerable ports in the country
- Strengthening financial investigation to freeze assets of drug lords and financiers
- Active conduct of advocacy campaign
The agency will also establish Balay Silangan, a reformation center to provide “voluntary drug surrenderers” with livelihood and training, after care services and social reintegration programs in coordination with government and nongovernmental organizations.