CAMP DANGWA, LA TRINIDAD: Of the six Cordillera provinces, Abra has the worst problem on illegal drugs, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-Cordillera Autonomous Region).
PDEA-CAR spokesman Joseph Calulut said about 136 villages out of 1,176 in the region are being monitored for the narcotics trade. Among the provinces, Abra has the highest number of drug-affected barangays, followed by Baguio City.
The same report revealed that Benguet, Ifugao and Kalinga have 17 drug-affected barangays each; Apayao has 13, while Mountain Province has only four villages found with illegal drugs users.
Calulut said these villages underwent thorough assessment and evaluation before they were classified as drug-affected, pursuant to standards being followed by the agency.
Drug affected villages are those with drug users, drug pushers and a drug trader, while severely drug affected barangays are those with existing drug laboratories, among others.
Just as PDEA was evaluating the illegal drugs situation in the provinces, at least six drug dealers were arrested in a series of intensified operations in the capital town of Bangued and in Kalinga province.
Those arrested were identified as Janetter Timbreza Alzate from Tayum town, who was caught selling drugs in front of the Abra Provincial Jail in Calaba, Bangued.
Alzate, who has a pending case for drugs was found with heat sealed plastic sachets of ‘shabu,’ marked money and drug paraphernalia.
Also on the same day, Nelson Bilgera of Cosili village in Bangued, was busted with a heat sealed plastic sachet containing ‘shabu,’ cellphones and P500 marked bill.
Next to fall were Terrence Payo Guinaban, a native of Lagayan in Abra and facing drugs case; and Eleazar Velasco Casel of Zone 7, Bangued.
Another 32 drug users turned themselves in during the drug symposium conducted by Mankayan police at the village of Suyoc, Mankayan last week, while four drug traders were arrested in separate operations.
The confessed drug users said they surrendered for fear of the perceived worse consequence under the Duterte administration, adding that they are willing to undergo rehabilitation to lead a new life.
Meanwhile, joint operatives of Buguias police and CIDG-Kalinga nabbed businesswoman Aileen Dionisio Aligo also known as “Bea”, of Ud-udan, Ampucao in Itogon; Jordan Ganasi Landisan alias “Kokan” of Bulalacao, Mankayan; and Elvis Canuto Begay of Buguias, inside a videoke bar owned by Aligo at Dalog Building in Upper Abatan, Buguias.
Seized from their possession were three plastic sachets containing ‘shabu’ worth about P4,000 and P1,000 marked money, and drug paraphernalia.
In Baguio City, Mark Yu Ong of Banaue Avenue in Quezon City (Metro Manila) was caught in possession of 1.5 grams of ‘shabu’ while inside one of the inns at Abanao Street Extension.
PDEA operatives said ‘shabu’ has since become the drug of choice in the highlands, even as the mountainous region still produces the best quality and highest bulk of marijuana in the country.
‘Shabu’ is reportedly being shipped into the region by big-time drug personalities while marijuana is being shipped out of the region and distributed to other regions which also command a high demand.
Marijuana thrives best in the far-flung communities of Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province as well as in its tri-boundaries with La Union and Ilocos Sur.