MANILA, July 28 –- As President Rodrigo Roa Duterte reiterated the ongoing campaign against hard drugs in the country, a total 163 clandestine shabu laboratories and drug dens were dismantled by the authorities, a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) official said on Friday.
In its update, PDEA Director General Isidro Lapeña said that from June 2016 up to July 26,2017, some 154 drug dens and nine clandestine shabu laboratories were dismantled while different illegal drugs were seized worth PHP18.56 billion.
As of July 26, a total of 2,455 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride, also known as “shabu,” with an estimated value of PHP12.66 billion were also seized.
The PDEA chief said authorities have arrested a total of 96,703 individuals included 327 persons from government involved in illegal drugs from July 2016 to July 26, 2017.
Of the total, he said some 142 were elected officials, 23 were uniformed personnel, and 159 government employees.
Around 68,214 anti-illegal drugs operations by joint law enforcement agencies were also conducted during the period.
Lapena added the number of drug surrenderers totaled 1,308,078 during the anti-narcotics campaign period from July 2016 to July 26, 2017.
As of July 26, 2017, their consolidated report showed that 3,451 drug suspects have died during operations while 68 were killed in action and 184 wounded from the law enforcement agencies during the operations.
Lapeña said that joint law enforcement agencies rescued 398 minors during anti-illegal drugs operations from July 2016 to July 26, 2017.
The youngest minor rescued was a six-year-old. Those rescued 17 years old (cut off age) and below were turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for temporary custody.
According to DSWD, those rescued minors, after court proceedings, will be turned over to the Bahay Pagasa centers of local government units (LGUs) within eight hours of police custody, before turning them over to the DSWD centers to undergo counselling to help reform them back to society.
Since they are minors, DSWD said, they will not be put in prison together with hardened criminals.
Aside from PDEA, agencies involved in the anti-illegal drugs operations are the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), among others.
Last Monday, President Duterte reiterated in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) that the ongoing campaign against hard drugs will continue.
“That is why, I have resolved that no matter how long it takes, the fight against illegal drugs will continue because that is the root cause of so much evil and so much suffering [applause] that weakens the social fabric and deters foreign investments from pouring in. The fight will be unremitting as it will be unrelenting,” Duterte noted.
“Despite international and local pressures, the fight will not stop until those who deal in it understand that they have to cease, they have to stop because the alternatives are either jail or hell. And I will make sure, very sure that they will not have the luxury of enjoying the benefits of their greed and madness,” the President said.
Duterte also told the critics against this fight: “Your efforts will be better spent if you use the influence, moral authority and ascendancy of your organizations over your respective sectors to educate the people on the evils of illegal drugs instead of condemning the authorities and unjustly blaming for every killing that bloodies this country.”
Dutere said that he does not intend to loosen the leash in the campaign or lose the fight against illegal drugs.
“Neither do I intend to preside over the destruction of the Filipino youth by being timid and tentative in my decisions and actions,” he said.
Duterte reiterated that he also values human life despite the deaths that have been linked to illegal drugs.
“But don’t get me wrong. I value human life the way I value mine. Each life that is snuffed out translates into future generations lost. It is like cracking the acorn from which an oak tree grows — which, in turn, produce the seeds to complete the cycle of [life in] perpetuity,” the Chief Executive explained.
The President also urged Filipinos to join the fight against hard drugs and criminality.
“That is why I ask you to join me in this fight against illegal drugs and all forms of criminality. The government, equipped with legal authority, and you, with the moral ascendancy over the sector you represent, can do so much, and hopefully, eradicate this social scourge that plagues us no end,” he said.