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Thursday, May 30, 2024

‘No one died, no one was killed’ in record ‘drug bust’—Marcos

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday led the inspection of the more than 1.8 tons of shabu seized in Batangas which said to be the biggest drug haul in the country’s history.

“This is the biggest shipment of shabu na nahuli natin. But not one person died.  But not one person died. No one was shot, no one was harmed. We conducted the operation carefully,” President Marcos said.

“That should be the approach. For me, that should be the approach for the drug war where the most important thing is to stop the shipment of drugs from entering the Philippines,” the President said.

President Marcos said authorities apprehended the suspect during a road checkpoint in Alitagtag, Batangas, and seized the drugs with a street value of approximately P13.3 billion. Operatives of the Alitagtag police seized the illegal drugs from a Foton van that was flagged down in Barangay Pinagkrusan.

He further emphasized the need for a careful and thorough approach to conducting operations against illegal drugs.

Asked about the possibility of changing the government’s approach, the President said he wouldn’t change his approach to dealing with narcotics.

“No, quite the contrary, why will we change? Look at the success that we have gained. As I’ve said, not only this 1.8 tons, the many, many tons that we have already seized,” the President stated.

“So, it’s much more than it has been in the past. So, it is the most successful approach to the drug war so far. So, why will we change it? We won’t change it; we’ll continue to do what we are doing,” he added.

He stressed the importance of preventing the entry of drugs into the Philippines, highlighting the need for an approach that prioritizes ending drug shipments.

In recognition of the successful operation, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has recommended the “spot promotion” of Alitagtag Municipal Police Station Chief P/Captain Luis de Luna Jr. by one rank higher.

According to De Luna, the seizure occurred during a routine checkpoint in Barangay Pinagkrusan when a suspicious passenger van was flagged down. 

The driver of the passenger van was swiftly apprehended and charged with violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. Currently, the suspect is under police custody.

This recent drug seizure surpasses the previous record set in March 2022, when authorities seized 1,589 kilograms of shabu worth PhP11 billion in Infanta, Quezon.

Authorities are currently tracing the source of the confiscated drugs, which are believed to have been imported rather than locally manufactured.

Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas meanwhile directed the provincial police to carry on with aggressive checkpoint operations which have proven to be an effective component in the government’s fight against illegal drugs.

The governor on Tuesday morning accompanied the President and DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. in visiting the site of the country’s largest drug haul to date.

Mandanas said strategically positioned checkpoints provide an “effective and usually peaceful” means of combating criminality.

“While I am the No. 1 person responsible [in the province], I cannot do this without the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency), PNP (Philippine National Police), and the whole community. Thank God for a peaceful operation and the zeal of our policemen here in the province of Batangas,” he told the Philippine News Agency.

In a press conference, President Marcos further told reporters that despite having lost billions of pesos in the latest drug bust, narcotics traffickers would eventually write it off as a mere operational loss.

Authorities must carry out their anti-drug operations without letup, the President said.

“You have to understand that when their drugs are seized, drug syndicates just treat it as part of their cost of doing business. It’s part of their costing calculation… once in a while, they will get caught. There is no single silver bullet to solve the drug problem… we have to keep working, we have to coordinate with Interpol and other intelligence agencies abroad. We have to keep intercepting them until they grow weary of shipping drugs to the Philippines,” Mr. Marcos said in Filipino.

However, Mr. Marcos noted that the government’s fight against illegal drugs must remain within legal limits to ensure that suspects would be prosecuted.

The President’s visit “manifests his real concern in implementing an effective program to combat illegal drugs in the country,” Mandanas said.

The governor denied speculations that there is an operational shabu laboratory in Batangas.

“The vigilance of our intelligence is meticulous… the seized drugs came from another country as Arabic words are seen in the packaging. It is ready-to-use, it won’t go through the laboratory,” he said.

Mandanas said the value of the seized illegal drugs may even have a “triple market value” because the substance is said to be “pure.”

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