ILOILO City – No centralized drug syndicate is operating in this city anymore, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). “Unlike before, wala ng isang grupo na nagko-control…Ang laki nang difference,” said Regional Director Alex Tablate at yesterday’s meeting of the City Peace and Order Council (CPOC).
Drug trafficking persists, according to Tablate, but he described the traffickers as mostly “transients” or from other areas.
A man and woman from Cebu arrested last month in Barangay Rizal Estanzuela, City Proper were “indicators” that “Iloilo City is no longer controlled by a centralized drug syndicate compared to previous years,” said the PDEA Region 6 director.
The suspects, both residents of Naga City in Cebu province, yielded P.750-million worth of shabu intended for the recent Dinagyang Festival.
“You can compare. Ano ‘yung status ng Iloilo way back in 2016 pababa at ngayon? Ang laki ng difference,” said Tablate.
In August 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte tagged Iloilo as “most shabulized” in the country.
It was a challenge to Iloilo, said Tablate.
“Ang Iloilo at this point may mga ginawa, may pagbabago and these should be supported,” he stressed.
The Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) backed PDEA Region 6’s assessment. According to Senior Superintendent Martin Defensor, city police director, there has been a significant decline in the volume of confiscated illegal drugs.
“Last year we launched almost the same (number of) anti-drug operations as in 2017 pero ang amount of drugs na na-confiscate na-reduce by 50 percent, an indication na bumaba talaga ‘yung pumasok na supply sa city,” said Defensor.
In 2018, the city police apprehended 282 suspects in 197 operations while in 2017, the number of anti-drug operations conducted reached 199, resulting to the arrest of 306 suspects.
ICPO data also showed 14.5343 grams of marijuana and 328.5561 grams of shabu were seized in 2018, down from 254.9287 grams of marijuana and 668.9716 grams of shabu confiscated in 2017.
But there’s more work to do, said Tablate and Defensor. Of Iloilo City’s 180 barangays, only 10 were considered “unaffected” by illegal drugs.
Of the 170 drug-affected barangays, 69 were deemed “slightly affected”, 93 “moderately affected” and eight “seriously affected.”
So far, only four barangays were “drug-cleared.” These were barangays Luna and Santa Isabel in Jaro district; Barangay Sampaguita in the City Proper; and Barangay Quezon in Arevalo district.
PDEA-6 identified the following villages as “hot spots”: Bakhaw in Mandurriao district; Tanza-Esperanza, Zamora-Melliza and Rizal Pala-pala in the City Proper; Desamparados and Cubay in Jaro; San Juan and Boulevard in Molo district; Santo Niño Sur in Arevalo; and Rizal in La Paz district.
Tablate said his office looked forward to declaring at least 50 percent of the 69 “slightly affected” as “drug-cleared” within the first or second quarter of 2019.
“Minimal security protocols” in seaports, shorelines and transport terminals were making the entry of illegal drugs to the city easy, he observed./PN