By Bobby Q. Labalan
SORSOGON CITY --- Naga City had the third highest volume of shabu seized and recovered by law enforcers in the intensified anti-drug campaign in Bicol Region.
This was bared by Legazpi City Mayor and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) Chair Noel Rosal in an interview with Bicol Mail after he spoke at the 1st Sorsogon Anti-Drug Congress held August 31st at the Sorsogon Provincial Gymnasium here.
Rosal said that based on the data provided to him by the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) covering the period from January 1 to August 31, 2018 , Naga City accounted for about 21.8 percent of the total 5.2 kilos of shabu confiscated by authorities in the various anti-drug operations in the region.
This, he said, could have been the basis of the “shabu hotbed” labelled by Pres. Duterte on Naga City which drew sharp rebuke from the city’s officials and residents.
The president’s statement was backed by the Philippine National Police, the mayor added.
As chair of the RPOC, Rosal called on the local and barangay officials of the city to be more active and vigilant in the fight against illegal drugs to stave it off in their jurisdiction.
“Barangay officials, specially, play a key role in this fight, and without their help and cooperation it would be an uphill battle,” he stressed.
Based on the PDEA record, Camarines Sur had the most number of shabu haul at 1.8 kilos or 34.8 percent of the total, Albay was second with 1.67 kilos corresponding to 32.4 percent, Camarines Norte was fourth with 372.7 grams or 7.22 percent, followed by Masbate province with 105.6 grams or 2.05 percent, Sorsogon province with 83.8 grams or 1.62 percent and Catanduanes with only 5.37 grams equivalent to 0.10 percent.
Naga City is separated from Camarines Sur since it is a chartered city, thus it’s assessment is at the same level as those of the six provinces.
PDEA Regional Director Christian Frivaldo, who was also present in the activity, said that it’s up to the public how they would appreciate the data pertaining to shabu confiscated in the region, as he refused to answer directly the question whether the figure would substantiate the tag on Naga City by the President.
Instead he urged local officials to exert more effort in helping the anti-drug drive of the government to ensure its success saying that local officials play a significant role in the campaign.
Both Rosal and Frivaldo had a common assessment that the anti-drug drive in the region is gaining ground as shown by the successful operations launched by various agencies.
Based on PDEA-Bicol’s semi-annual report, a total of 426 drug personalities had been arrested, 82 of whom are considered high-value targets which included three foreign nationals, two government officials and nine government employees.