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Thursday, December 7, 2023

‘Whole-of-drugnation program to fight drugs needed’

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said a whole-of-nation approach is needed to rid the country of illegal drugs through prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and law enforcement.

In an address read for him during the 4th anniversary of the DOH-Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur on Thursday, the President said the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drug Strategy seeks to eradicate this health and social menace once and for all.

“This also entails the cooperation of the government and private sector through early intervention and education in schools, awareness campaigns, and community-based solutions and initiatives,” he said.

The DOH-Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, which is part of the anti-drugs effort, continues to be a vital component of the program, the President said.

“Amid the harsh realities of drug abuse, this treatment center remains a sanctuary where individuals can find healing, compassion, and recovery,” he said.

“In our pursuit of helping individuals rebuild their lives, we need a supportive environment, like what we have here, to facilitate our patients’ transformation,” he added.

He enjoined the public to be part of the efforts to fight the proliferation of illegal drugs in communities.

“Be vigilant, report drug-related activities, and support rehabilitation efforts,” he said.

“Together, we will be the champions of hope for those who are on the path to recovery so that they may contribute positively to society as well,” he added.

Also on Friday, Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio on Friday commended the Port of Subic and the Intelligence Group for the seizure of a P3.8 billion shipment of smuggled drugs from Thailand.

The Customs Bureau, with the help of the National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, conducted a controlled delivery operation in San Jose Malino, Mexico, Pampanga, on Sept. 24 and seized 881 bags containing the prohibited substances.

The shipment was declared as animal feed from Thailand, packed in 881 bags, with each containing a kilogram of methamphetamine or shabu.

The shipment arrived at the Port of Subic on board the vessel MV SITC Shekou and was subjected to x-ray scanning and examination. After confirming it contained illegal drugs, the bureau asked for the help of the NBI and PDEA for the controlled delivery operation.

“We continue to enhance our information-sharing and enforcement initiatives among government agencies to stay ahead of drug syndicates and ensure that these illegal importations are intercepted even before they reach our local markets,” Rubio said.

“An operation like this demands a coordinated response between and among agencies. We need to make sure that we won’t only be confiscating these harmful narcotics, but that we will also know who’s leading these activities,” said Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Director Verne Enciso.

Deputy Commissioner for Customs Intelligence Group Juvymax Uy also praised the composite team for the successful operation.

“Narcotic interdiction remains at the core of our work here at the BOC. This operation demonstrates the commitment and dedication of our people to fulfill their mandates and remove this menace from our streets,” he said.

Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. on Friday asked the House of Representatives to investigate the recent seizures of illegal drugs in his province.

Gonzales said he would file a resolution soon to formally propose the inquiry.

“We are saddened and alarmed by this turn of events in our beloved province, one of the growth centers in Central Luzon. Pampanga is not known as the home ground of drug traffickers, but the latest drug confiscations are giving it a bad image. If this is an incipient problem in our area, let us nip it in the bud,” he said.

Gonzales sought the investigation in aid of legislation a day after Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla revealed that the authorities have seized 530 kilos of shabu in a warehouse in Mexico town.

Remulla said the contraband entered the country through the Subic Freeport and those behind the shipment, including some foreigners, were still being pursued.

Gonzales said the drug seizure in Mexico town is the latest in a series of drug confiscations in Pampanga.

In the latter part of last month, police reportedly recovered 200 kilos of shabu in a vehicle abandoned in the parking lot of a supermarket in Barangay Mabiga, City of Mabalacat, he said.

“The estimated street value of the contraband is staggering — P3.6 billion for the seized shabu in Mexico and P1.3 billion for the Mabalacat shabu,” he said.

He added that he and other lawmakers would be interested in finding out who are the persons involved in the drug shipments, how these entered the country and where the substances were being distributed.

The Pampanga lawmaker pointed out that the recent confiscations highlight the gravity of the illegal drug problem in the country.

He commended law enforcement agencies involved in seizing shabu in Mexico, Mabalacat and other areas, including the interception of shabu worth more than P400 million along the North Luzon Expressway in Pampanga in the middle of 2022.

Gonzales urged these agencies and local and barangay officials to strengthen and heighten their surveillance and monitoring of drug traffickers and other lawless elements in their areas.

“The drug problem and other illegal activities are a concern of both the national government and local government units,” he said.

He also called for the revocation of business permits of Subic Freeport locators involved in the entry of contraband and the warehouses and other business establishments where the shipments were hidden and seized.

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