By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY --- The chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) regional office in Bicol has commended “for a job well done” his personnel in Camarines Sur for the arrest of four drug couriers and confiscation of a kilo of “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) worth P6M in Naga City over the weekend.
Christian Frivaldo, PDEA regional director, in a phone interview on Sunday identified the arrested suspects as Olivia Encinas, 60, of Laguna; Joel Saut, 35, of Cavite, Alvin Andaya, 37, also of Cavite, and Rodigundo Celis, 34, of Taguig City.
He said the arrest of the drug couriers and confiscation of the P6M worth of shabu show the strong determination of the agency to intensify the government’s war against illegal drugs.
Frivaldo noted that the kilo of shabu seized from drug couriers came from Metro Manila, its delivery intended for Camarines Sur.
In a radio interview over RMN DWNX in Naga City, a PDEA Camarines Sur enforcer who identified himself as “Agent Pong” told radiomen Ed Ventura and Grace Inosentes that it was originally planned that a poseur buyer (a PDEA asset) would meet the 4 suspects, who came all the way from Metro Manila, in Ragay, Camarines Sur.
The PDEA asset, however, would later tell the shabu couriers that his car bogged down along Almeda Highway in Naga City. He asked the suspects, therefore, to bring the “goods” in Naga where they would be paid the money.
‘Agent Pong’ told Ventura and Inosentes that the suspects eventually agreed. Upon arrival at Almeda highway, the asset, according to Agent Pong, met the suspects to start talking about the transaction. After having determined that ‘shabu’ was indeed in possession of the suspects, the asset gave the signal for the other PDEA personnel who were posted in disguise nearby to quickly pounce on the four suspects led by the lone woman, Olivia Encinas.
Meanwhile, Frivaldo said they are still determining the identity of the source of the hot drug and other persons involved in the illegal drug transaction. “So far, investigation is ongoing and we don’t want to preempt the result of the probe,” he said.
The PDEA chief said the seized shabu would be transferred for safekeeping to the PDEA regional office storage room in this city.
He said the seized illegal drugs would be burned and reduced to ashes upon the court’s order. Under the law, PDEA is given 24 hours to dispose of seized illegal drugs.
Frivaldo also said they are still validating if the shabu came from new sources or old stock that drug traders now want to distribute after the campaign against illegal drugs was taken out from the PNP to PDEA.
He also said there is also an ongoing validation whether there are still clandestine drug laboratories operating in Bicol.
Frivaldo said he believes that the illegal drugs circulating and distributed in Bicol come from other countries and entered through various ports.
For this reason, PDEA is stepping up its monitoring of these ports believed being used as trans-shipment points for illegal drugs.
Frivaldo said the agency is working closely with the Philippine Coast Guard, PNP, LGUs and the barangays for this purpose.
PDEA, he said, is always ready to protect the public against this social menace despite limitations in manpower and funds.
The campaign against illegal drugs will continue despite easing out the Philippine National Police (PNP) from the war against drugs, Frivaldo, however, admitted that the PNP plays a big role in the fight against drugs.
“Malaking dagok sa kampanya laban sa droga nang nawala ang PNP (PNP being out of the anti-drug war is a big loss),” he said.
Frivaldo said that despite the problem on lack of manpower and funds, the anti-illegal drug campaign will continue without letup.