Friday, February 5, 2010

Auring: Zambosur drug problem licked

GOVERNOR Aurora Cerilles has declared that she is making progress in her fight against illegal drugs in Zamboanga del Sur after she was inspired by Pres. Gloria Arroyo taking the helm in the fight against the menace and made herself a drug czar.

January, last year, Cerilles cracked the whip and announced that she will wage her own war against drug lords and gunrunners in her province.

Treading after Arrroyo’s pace, Cerilles said: “As long as I am the chairperson of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) of Zamboanga Peninsula, I will do my best to stop illegal drugs in the region. We should protect the future of our children and grandchildren as illegal drugs are considered a menace of society.”

The governor then zeroed in on the several political personalities in Zambosur, warning them to “stop their illegal trade because it won’t do well to the people.”

Cerilles said she felt uncomfortable every time she presides the RPOC meeting because she would encounter reports of high incidence of drug-related cases in Zambosur as compared to the Zambo Norte and Zambo Sibugay.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has earlier hinted they are keeping watch on some 200 drug personalities in Zamboanga del Sur while dealer after dealer fall in several busts conducted by them, the 53rd IB, Task Force Kontra Droga (TFKD) and the PNP’s Provincial Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operations Task Force (PAIDSOTF).

Complimenting the strength of the government authorities is TFKD, an anti-illegal drug working team created by Cerilles and headed by board member Ernesto Mondarte as action officer.

Mondarte, in an interview, claimed that they have suppressed circulation of shabu illegal in the province, resulting to the increase of shabu street price due to dwindling supply.

Prices have increased five times, from P100 per sachet to P500, said Mondarte, as evidenced by relentless entrapment and buy-bust operations against drug traffickers in identified barangays in Pagadian.

“The price now is high because of the diminishing supply,” Mondarte disclosed, adding the supply reduction and their strategy against shabu proliferation have been successful because they saturated the secondary and tertiary schools through information campaign on the dangers and effects of illegal drugs.

Likewise, the legislator said that he requested each town to activate their municipal anti drug abuse councils, which they did, and intensified advocacies on radio airtimes and media reports in the all out war against illegal drugs.

“Nakita nato ang effect niining nanglabay nga confiscations, tungod sa scarcity sa supply, mimahal ang shabu. Magdungan ning supply and demand reduction and the community has done well, I hope kita tanan, with the parents and all sectors in the society will help flush out illegal drugs in our communities,” Mondarte said.

However, reports reaching Cerilles’ ears have said that her heroic antics and those of the government agents in Zambosur infuriated the businessmen who are in the shabu business that as the governor puts it, she started to hear threats about her life.

“If you try to analyze it, ang business sa droga dali kaayo, daghan kaayo and these people involved in the trade can just hire anybody. Kay matod pa, nakuhaan gyod ang ilang negosyo diin pila ka higyaon, pila ka panahon ug katuigan nakatagamtam sila pinaagi aning ilegal nga droga,” Cerilles said during a recent meeting with the press inside her office.

Referring to her threat, the governor added: “Karon duna koy nahibaw-an, they are getting professional hired killers [to kill me] and they can do that because they have the money.”

The governor explained that she has already informed DILG Provincial Director Abcede Asjali about the threat of her life and that of her family.

“To me, makakontra man gyod ko sa politka, dili kaayo ko ana maguol.
But in case something happens to me and any members of my family, kahibalo na mo kinsay pangitaan,” she said.

“But my conscience is clear; I’m doing this for our children’s future. I just wish, hope and call on people with intentions to harm me and my family that they will be enlightened,” Cerilles concluded.

Meanwhile, PDEA, this city’s PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) confirmed the news of the decline of the illegal drug trade in Zambosur.

PDEA agent Rommel Torres said that in collaboration with other law enforcers, the military and concerned citizens and groups, they have conducted 75 operations, arrested 144 persons, filed 200 cases and ceased almost a P1 million worth of illegal drugs.

City Police Chief Inspector Michael Palermo also said that based on the considerable statistics presented, indeed they “have won the streets with the fight against drugs” and that shabu selling activities have lessened at present as compared to previous years.

NBI Chief Eric Distor concurs with Palermo and explained that the authorities their office is “busy on the intelligence support for the PDEA and this city’s PNP.”

“Ang problema tungkol sa droga ay problema nating lahat. So we should involve the community. If we can’t [eradicate it], at least ma-lessen natin,” Distor said.