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Bicol struggles with rising drug operations

By Rhaydz B. Barcia


THE Philippine National Police in Bicol have identified the province of Camarines Sur and Naga City as major hotspots for drug operations in the region, according to Police Brig. Gen. Andre P. Dizon, Bicol’s top cop.


“Naga City and the province of Camarines Sur are the primary drug hotspots in the Bicol Region due to their proximity to the National Capital Region,” Dizon told this paper during an interview at the 1st Regional Drug Summit 2024 held at Casablanca Hotel.


When asked why Naga City and Camarines Sur are classified as the region’s drug hotspots, Dizon explained that Naga is a highly urbanized area. Although Legazpi City and Albay province are also urbanized, drug syndicates are deterred from operating there due to the strong presence of government forces and national government agencies.


Regarding the severity of drug operations in Bicol, Dizon noted that drug syndicates are using minors as young as 9 to 14 years old as drug peddlers, targeting them because they are easily lured and deceived.


Edgar T. Jubay, PDEA Bicol regional director, also stated that out of seven cities and six provinces, Naga City and Camarines Sur are identified as hotspots for drug operations in the Bicol Region.


Based on PDEA’s data, Naga City has the highest number of barangays affected by drugs, with 48.15 percent (13 out of 27 barangays) impacted, followed by Camarines Sur with 335 out of 1,063 barangays (32.34 percent). Other affected areas include Albay with 40 out of 720 barangays (5.56 percent), Masbate with 34 out of 550 barangays, Camarines Norte with 17 out of 282 barangays (6.03 percent), Sorsogon with 4 out of 541 barangays (0.74 percent), and Catanduanes with 4 out of 315 barangays (1.27 percent), totalling 447 affected barangays out of 3,471 as of April 2024.


The primary source of drug operations is the National Capital Region (NCR), with drugs distributed throughout Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Naga, Legazpi, Albay province, Catanduanes, down to Sorsogon and Masbate provinces. Another source of illegal drugs distributed in Sorsogon comes from Cebu.


Jubay noted that drug operations in the Bicol Region have slightly declined compared to 2019, when 1,856 barangays (53.47 percent) were affected, with 2,346 barangays cleared and 678 cleared barangays. Last year, PDEA reported that BADAC recorded 2,408 barangays with moderate drug infestation, 336 with low infestation, and 727 with high infestation.


According to Jubay, shabu remains the most dominant illegal drug in the region, based on arrests and seizures, while marijuana is the second most popular, preferred by low-income users.


In terms of inmates with drug-related cases, Camarines Sur has the highest number of detainees with 598, followed by Albay with 520, Camarines Norte with 222, Sorsogon with 110, Masbate with 67, and Catanduanes with 28, totalling 1,545 as of April 2024.


PDEA Bicol reported that as of April 2024, drugs worth P71,206,500 have been surrendered. Jubay told Bicol Mail that Bicol is among the top 10 regions in the country with high illegal drug distribution.


The Philippine National Police in Bicol launched the first Regional Drug Summit in partnership with PDEA Bicol and other agencies at the Casablanca Convention Center to eradicate drug operations in Bicol. Dizon emphasized that they will continue and intensify the anti-drug campaign across the Bicol Region to protect children from illegal drug operations.

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