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Palace: P1.37B drugs seized under BBM

A TOTAL of P1.37 billion worth of prohibited drugs have been seized by the government since the start of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a Palace official said.

Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has posted significant accomplishments in its anti-narcotics operations in the first 100 days of the Marcos administration.

“In line with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s directive to eradicate illegal drugs in the country, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has reported the confiscation of P1.37 billion worth of illegal substances in various operations from November 2022 to February 2023,” Garafil said in a statement.

“PDEA, the lead agency in the campaign against illegal drugs, said these operations were launched in adherence to the Marcos administration’s 3-point drug war approach: mapping and prevention, cure, and enforcement,” she added.

Based on a report submitted to Malacañang, Garafil said operatives of the PDEA, under Director General Moro Virgilio Lazo, launched 405 operations that resulted in the arrest of 728 drug personalities from Nov. 21, 2022 to Feb. 28, 2023.

She said confiscated during the operations were 177.21 kilos of shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride; 200.22 kilos of dried leaves and bricks of marijuana; 565,160 pieces of marijuana plants; 1,687 grams of cocaine; and 16,782 tablets of Ecstasy.

During the same period, PDEA also reported that 115 high-impact operations were launched, which dismantled 79 drug dens and eradicated 12 marijuana plantations and resulted in 24 high-volume seizures.

These anti-illegal drug operations also resulted in the arrest of 548 high-value targets (HVTs), which is vital in disrupting the proliferation of dangerous drugs in the country, the PDEA noted.

Among the apprehended HVTs were four elected officials, 15 government employees, nine foreigners, 42 target-listed personalities, 102 drug den operators, and one uniformed personnel.

From November 2022 to January 2023, PDEA also monitored 11,316 drug cases filed before the courts, where 7,038 cases were resolved, 6,079 resulted in conviction, 635 resulted in acquittal, and 324 were dismissed.

In the demand reduction aspect, PDEA said it has conducted 15,803 Preventive Education and Community Involvement (PECI) activities in schools, workplaces and communities during the same period.

As part of the demand reduction efforts, PDEA has also spearheaded the implementation of the Balay Silangan Reformation Program, which is instrumental in reforming and reintegrating drug offenders.

Since its inauguration in 2018, PDEA has established 19 Balay Silangan Reformation Centers nationwide, which have produced 6,019 graduates and 1,795 employed individuals. To date, these centers are catering to 1,450 clients, PDEA added.

This came months after the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized the resumption of its investigation into the drug war and the alleged Davao Death Squad killings in the Philippines.

The court said its pre-trial chamber was “not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations that would warrant a deferral of the court’s investigations.”

But Marcos has insisted that the ICC has “no jurisdiction” over the Philippines to investigate former president Rodrigo Duterte for his bloody drug war, saying it is a “threat to our sovereignty.”

“I do not see what their jurisdiction is. I feel that we have in our police, in our judiciary, a good system. We do not need assistance from any outside entity. The Philippines is a sovereign nation and we are not colonies anymore of this former imperialist,” the President had said.

“That is not something that we consider to be a legitimate judgment,” he added. “So until those questions of jurisdiction and the effects of the sovereignty of the Republic are sufficiently answered, I cannot cooperate with them.”

Duterte pulled the Philippines out of the ICC in 2019, after it began a preliminary probe into the drug crackdown followed by the launch of a formal inquiry later that year.

But the probe was suspended in November 2019 after Manila said it was re-examining several hundred cases of drug operations that led to deaths, allegedly at the hands of the police, hitmen and vigilantes.

The ICC said that while the Philippines’ withdrawal from the statute took effect on March 17, 2019, the court “retains jurisdiction with respect to alleged crimes that occurred on the territory of the Philippines while it was a State Party, from 1 November 2011 up to and including 16 March 2019.”

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Author: Catherine S. Valente

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