Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 12 office to intensify anti-drug operations after South Cotabato ranked third among provinces with the highest number of illegal drug activities.
Sueno cited a report that stated that in South Cotabato, where he had served as governor, 41 percent of criminal activities were drug-related.
Since June, 586 drug traders have surrendered or were arrested, while 2,555 drug users turned themselves in supposedly for fear of being killed in police operations against drug syndicates.
Intelligence reports have revealed that South Cotabato had been used as a transit point of illegal drugs being distributed in regions 11 and 12, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the rest of the country.
The same reports said that methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) came from a laboratory in Maguindanao being maintained by a prominent clan. Ambulance units were supposedly being used to transport drugs to different parts of the region to avoid detection by authorities.
Sueno was in Koronadal City (South Cotabato) recently for a meeting with local chief executives and police in the region, to lay down directives to local government units and priorities of the Duterte administration for the next six years.
Sueno asked local governments to implement programs such as the strengthening of the Mamamayan Sugpuin ang Ilegal na Droga program, revitalization of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council and other barangay-level anti-drug initiatives, and the use of citizen groups to apprehend drug pushers.
He also urged local executives to reduce the supply and demand for drugs in their respective areas and allocate 5 percent of their 20-percent peace and order fund from their internal revenue allocations to anti-drug campaigns.
Meanwhile, a thriving illegal drug trade inside Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail was discovered during an inspection on Wednesday, in which jail guards confiscated 43 sachets of shabu.
Also recovered were weighing scales, mobile phones and improvised knives from the inmates’ belongings, jail warden Dominador Tagarda said.
Tagarda said they were coordinating with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in filing charges against five inmates suspected of being responsible for the illegal drug operation.
Gov. Yevgeny Vicente Emano ordered the dismissal of a jail guard who had admitted to being a courier of illegal drugs inside the jail.
WITH REPORT FROM PNA