Illegal drug trade soars amid pandemic

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said the illegal drug trade increased as quarantine lockdowns continue in many parts of the country.

PDEA) Chief Wilkins Villanueva said that since bars were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many users opted to sell and use ecstasy and marijuana inside their homes.

“There is a trend right now na wala na kasing ngayon,  talagang bahay-bahay sila and ang lakas ngayon, saleable talaga ‘yung kush at ecstasy. Doon na lang sila nagpa-party,” Villanueva said.

The PDEA first seized P8.6 million worth of 9,000 ecstasy tablets in Parañaque City on 8 while P16 million worth of 9,471 ecstasy tablets were seized in Lubao, Pampanga, where 5 people were arrested.

reported Tuesday it arrested 1,121 high-value targets in the country from January to July of 2020.

The breakdown of the arrested high-value targets during the Senate hearing on the P2.7-billion proposed budget of PDEA for 2021:

  • Elected officials – 33
  • Uniformed personnel – 11
  • Government employee – 54
  • Foreign nationals – 57
  • Drug group leaders/members – 16
  • Armed group members – 1
  • Celebrity/prominent personality – 1
  • Wanted-listed – 29
  • Target-listed – 364
  • Drug den maintainers – 108
  • Arrest from high-impact operations – 447

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Illegal drug trade soars amid pandemic

Villanueva added the PDEA conducted over 18,000 anti-drug operations from January to July 2020, of which more than 26,000 drug personalities were arrested.

The number of drug-cleared barangays in the country was 19,876 as of July 31, 2020.

However, 14,491 or 34.47% of the 42,045 barangays nationwide are still drug-affected. The number is lower than the over 24,000 drug-affected barangays when President Rodrigo Duterte became the President in 2017.

Villanueva said 5,513 of these barangays were “slightly affected,” meaning there are only drug users in the area.

Meanwhile, 8,746 barangays were “moderately affected” barangays, where at least one pusher is present.

The “seriously affected” ones, meanwhile, are 232 in total. These are areas where drug dens and warehouses are located.

More than 7,000 other barangays in the Philippines are unaffected by the illegal drug trade.

The PDEA chief believes that further barangay illegal drug trade clearing is “doable” and that the agency under his leadership would continue to implement the barangay drug clearing program fully.

“Parati nating sinasabi, kahit saan man ang droga manggaling, sigurado sir, pag ang barangay is not cleared, sigurado sa barangay ito magla-landing,” he said.