• Catanduanes scores big in anti-drug drive

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    VIRAC, Catanduanes: Police said they have seized P2.1 million in shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride)–their biggest haul yet–in Pandan town of this island province.

    According to the Pandan police chief, Senior Insp. Virgil Bibat, a series of operations led to the arrest of abaca stripper Randy Paloma Eusebio, 33, of Barangay Libod, who confessed to hiding packs of shabu in the family-owned small farm in Barangay Balangonan, a coastal village six kilometers away from the town center.

    Armed with shovels, police dug up a cache of illegal drugs, comprising 71 bulto (term used in the illegal drug trade for “bulk”).

    One bulto costs P30,000, so that the total haul was estimated at about P2,100,000.

    Police said the haul is the largest in the history of drug operations in this remote province of 11 towns.

    They added that Eusebio appeared to be the syndicate’s caretaker entrusted with drugs for safekeeping, repacking and distributing to their local pushers.

    The payments for the drugs were being wired to Eusebio through remittance outlets.

    On July 18, the police provincial director, Senior Supt. Jesus Martirez, in a text message to The Manila Times, said a total of 345 users have surrendered in one police operation.

    The Philippine National Police (PNP) regional command in Legazpi City said a total of 25,000 drug users and 1,388 pushers have surrendered since July 1, with Albay and Camarines Sur topping the list followed by Masbate, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes.

    As of July 19, the PNP said, a total of 930 users had surrendered in Catanduanes, with one pusher arrested.

    No drug operation casualty was reported.

    Early last month, Catanduanes police scored a judicial victory when a cock farm operator in Virac town was convicted by a Regional Trial Court judge for paying his P5,000 loan with shabu.

    Prior to the Duterte administration, residents complained of proliferation of drugs in the island province and that these drugs have entered distant coastal villages in the towns of Viga, Baras, Gigmoto, Caramoran and Pandan.

    Rosulo Manlangit, former Department of National Defense public affairs director and also the former mayor of Viga, said the police did not seem persuasive in their operations and that many drug users waited for the perceived coercive approach of the Duterte administration for them to surrender.

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