By Jezza Nepomoceno
ILOILO — Illicit drug users and traffickers in Western Visayas are committing others crimes to sustain the cost of their addiction, according to reports from Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
“They are diversifying. They rob people of their money and properties. If they lay low, they will venture into prostitution,” revealed PDEA Regional Director Paul Ledesma during the Regional Peace and Order Council Meeting held at Casa Real Iloilo .
Drug abuse and illicit trafficking are both social and criminal problems that must be addressed with unified actions from all concerned stakeholders, he added.
PDEA-6 has achieved a milestone in supply and demand reduction of illegal drugs for the past six years.
As a result, Western Visayas (14.87%) ranked 12 in terms of barangay drug affectation in Philippines better than Central Visayas (20.28%) or Davao Region (29.35%).
“Drug affectation here is lesser compared to other regions. But despite that fact, we are not complacent. You can see that in the increase of persons we arrested and the volume of drugs we seized,” he said.
Comparing 2010-2013 average and that of 2014-2015 average, there has been 303% increase in operations spearheaded by PDEA-6. The operations increase dramatically from 290 in 2010 to 912 in 2014 and 1,270 in 2015.
The increase in anti-drug operations also led to increase of arrested persons (331%), drug cases filed in court (390%) and seizures (585%).
In 2015 alone, PDEA-6 arrested 2,093 drug personalities, seized P63.3-million worth of illegal drugs, and filed 2,049 cases from 1,270 buy bust operations held.
“We have been doing our best and I am confident we are hitting the right target,” he said referring to their operations against high-value drug personalities.
There are three known organized drug groups operating in the region. These are the Odicta and Prevendido Drug Groups based in Iloilo and Aguirre Drug Group based in Capiz.
Meanwhile, RPOC Chairperson Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. emphasized that although statistics are flattering, PDEA and Philippine National Police must not waver in the “war” against illegal drugs.
Defensor then urged the next administration, whether that belongs to the ruling Liberal Party or not, to prioritize the eradication of illegal drugs in the country since it destroys the people’s future.
On his part, Police Chief Supt. Bernardo Diaz of Police Regional Office recommended that chief executives must invest in upgrading and expansion of rehabilitation centers for drug addicts in the region.
Adequate facilities for rehabilitation of drug addicts are vital to the success of the multi-sectoral campaign against illegal drugs, he explained.
RPOC is created to recommend measures which will improve or enhance peace and order and public safety in their respective areas of responsibility, including anti-insurgency measures.
It also oversees the convergence and the orchestration of internal security operations efforts of civil authorities and agencies, military and police, among others.