THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has admitted that the illegal drug trade in the country has grown bigger although the agency has made “significant” strides with the arrest of 1,821 drug personalities, including almost 200 government officials.
When told about the revelation of PDEA director- general Arturo Cacdac Jr., Malacañang could only say it is the duty of PDEA to do everything they can in order to stop the illegal drug trade in the country.
“It is PDEA’s duty to do what is needed in order to have all those who violate the laws on the illegal drug trade to face charges,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
Testifying before a Senate inquiry into the drug trade, PDEA director-general Arturo Cacdac Jr. said the number of arrested “high-value” drug personalities increased by 30 percent from 1,402 individuals in 2014 to 1,821 in 2015.
Cacdac said the nabbed suspects included 248 drug den owners, 103 of whom were government employees; 102 were leaders of members of known drug groups, 63 were elected officials, 47 were wanted suspects, 37 were foreign nationals, 31 were law enforcers, and 10 were members of an armed group.
“We have an increased number of government officials arrested last year compared to the previous year. If I am not mistaken, it’s already 191. During the previous year, it was over 180. This happened because we make them high-value targets,” Cacdac said.
Cacdac said many of the arrested officials, who are either elected barangay captains or councilors, are drug pushers and many of them were even caught in buy-bust operations.
“If they are government officials or employees, people expect that they are the ones who will help solve the problem on drugs, and if they are the ones involved [in drug issues] they must know where to stand, they are high-value targets, so they are the ones I will capture first,” said Cacdac.
He said the number of arrests was the result of 24,462 anti-drug operations that led to the arrest of 19,406 drug trade suspects, he said.
“This is 44.4 percent more than the operations conducted in 2014. As a result of the increase, the number of arrested drug offenders likewise rose by 40.7 percent from 13,792 in 2014 to 19,406 in 2015,” Cacdac said.
Cacdac said he could not deny the fact that some of the arrested government officials used the proceeds of their illegal drug transactions for political purposes.
“I will not deny [that], because there are elected officials who violate Republic Act No. 9165, but again I will have to limit my statements to those who were arrested. It’s difficult to mention those who haven’t been caught because we would become vulnerable,” he said.
Asked if he thinks the drug problem has a nationwide structure, the PDEA chief there is a loose structure of major drug groups with links to local cohorts.
“There’s loose control. It’s not like the Philippine National Police or the Armed Forces of the Philippines which are structured,” he replied, adding that they can only recognize narco-politics based on the number of arrests of government officials.