“When the president said that he was not able to address the issue of drugs within 3-6 months because he underestimated the problem, it’s real. We’ve seen the figures.”
With the intensified war on drugs implemented by the police forces in the Philippines, the Ateneo de Davao’s Center Against Illegal Drugs (CAID) collaborated with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) XI and the Philippine National Police-Human Rights Office (PNP-HRO) XI for a forum on 2018 National Situationer on the War on Drugs last November 21 at the Pakighinabi Room, 3F CCFC.
“It is only when we understand the present situation where we also know the next steps that we will be taking… Make plans as to how we can move forward together,” CAID Board Member and Director of Ateneo Public Interest and Legal Advocacy (APILA) Atty. Arnold Abejaron said.
The Philippine National Police conducted a total of 78,127 Tokhang activities and 3,800 drug operations. They arrested an estimate of 3,771 drug personalities. 65, 908 drug personalities surrendered, and 206 died.
Since December 5, 2017, until November 2018, the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) conducted 665 drug operations, filed 836 cases. From the police operations held, 34 died.
The PNP has also confiscated 2,023 grams of shabu, 1,111 grams of which were seized by the DCPO.
Out of 121, 153 grams of marijuana, 8,189 grams were confiscated by DCPO. The Office likewise seized 57 out of 67 illegal firearms.
“On the human rights’ concept, parang naging part sila (deaths) ng collateral damage. Hindi naman talaga yan mawawala. It is part of our anti-drug operations,” PNP-HRO Supt. Michael Seguido said.
Seguido also stressed that PNP recruits undergo a program of instructions communicating with other training schools to intensify education.
Last year, the PNP XI tied up with APILA and CAID to conduct a 3-day intensive human rights-based policing training to 30 police officers of Region XI which made them realize that there are improvements that can still be done.
“Typical curriculum – pagod ang recruits so di mo sure kung talagang napipick up nila ang tinuturo kaya we are trying to influence the RTC na magset ng curriculum on human rights education sa time na di sila pagod ,” Atty. Abejaron said, emphasizing that CAID is willing to help in addressing this issue in whatever ways they can.
On the attacks and the issues faced by the PNP, Seguido said that “in terms of moral, high pa rin.”
“It is our golden years kasi ang lakas ng suporta ng government sa atin.”
On the other hand, reports from PDEA XI Chief of Plans and Operations Div. Marian Grace Cuadrazal stated that the agency has seized 636 kilograms of shabu, 16,713 kilograms tablets of ecstasy, and 94 kilograms of marijuana, nationwide amounting to $ 112 M as of September 2018.
In Region XI alone, 342 out of 1,162 barangays are considered to be drug-infested areas as of September 2018. The highest of which is Region IV-A or Calabarzon.
Based on the agency’s reports, there are numerous transnational drug organizations that “dominate drug market in the country, facilitate drug production, smuggle illegal drugs through drug couriers” like Chinese or Chi-Fil drug syndicates, African drug syndicates, and Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel.
“The archipelagic set-up of the Philippines is exploited by the syndicates kasi islands tayo. So, madali makapasok,” Cuadrazal said.
Entry points of smuggled drugs include airports, seaports, coastlines, and mail and parcel.
According to Cuadrazal, Davao has the first and only seaport interdiction task groups composed of 10 agencies.
“Hindi tayo patulog-tulog dito sa Davao kasi pag dito may makapasok, it’s not only a national news but an international news,” she added.
Meanwhile, about 1,300 of those who surrendered in Region XI enrolled to community-based rehabilitation centers since the barangay drug clearing operations because of the already-crowded rehab centers in Davao City.
With drugs being an international dilemma, PDEA regularly conducts meetings, international conferences and information exchanges with foreign counterparts.
“There might be difficulties and birth pains kasi nga sa promise ng change ng president, marami talagang masasagasaan. The change might be painful but let us remember the metaphor of the caterpillar – just when the caterpillar though that the world is over, it turned into a beautiful butterfly,” CAID Member and forum moderator Romeo Cabarde Jr. concluded.
The forum is one of the activities initiated by the SAMAHAN Central Board and CAID in celebration of the National Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week 2018 with the theme “LISTEN FIRST: Listening to Children and Youth is the First Step to Help Them Grow Healthy and Safe.”