SHABU LANE: PDEA-6 says Guimaras still a drug transshipment point

GUIMARAS residents board a motorized banca bound for Iloilo City. The island province known for its delicious mangoes remains a transshipment point of illegal drugs from Negros Occidental to Iloilo, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-6 regional office. (F. A. Angelo)

GET it straight from the horse’s mouth: Guimaras remains a transshipment point of illegal drugs from Negros Occidental to Iloilo.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-6 said illegal drug couriers pass through the island-province when transporting contrabands to the city and province of Iloilo.

“We monitored that there are very minimal illegal drug activities in Guimaras but our intelligence reports still suggest that illegal drugs supplies are not directly brought to Iloilo from Negros. It has to pass through Guimaras,” said PDEA-6 spokesperson David Abraham Garcia on July 26, 2018.

More than a week ago, Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, Western Visayas police chief, expressed discontent with how Western Visayas policemen performed in anti-illegal drugs operations.

For the month of June, Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 conducted 159 operations that led to the arrest of 215 suspected drug personalities.

Topping the list was Negros Occidental with 50 operations conducted and 71 arrested persons.

Bacolod City has 49 operations and 69 arrested persons; Iloilo province, 21 operations and 23 arrested persons; Iloilo City, 15 operations and 20 arrested persons; Capiz, 13 operations 20 arrested; and Antique, 19 operations and 3 arrested. The Aklan Police Provincial Office (APPO) conducted one anti-narcotics operation that led to the arrest of three persons.

Sadly, Guimaras scored zero last month.

“This is maybe one of the reasons that we would consider the relief of the provincial police director of Guimaras. For the past one or two months, wala silang naging operations,” Bulalacao said.

Some claimed that the absence of arrested drug personalities could be because a good number of barangays in the island-province are already drug-cleared.

But Bulalacao rebuffed the claim.

“There are still reports that Guimaras is used as a transshipment point from Negros to Iloilo,” he said.

But Senior Superintendent Julio Gustilo, Guimaras police director, justified that the zero accomplishment was due to the fact that high-value targets have left the island-province, making it peaceful and crime-free.

Days after Bulalacao made his declarations, the PNP Regional Drug Enforcement Unit 6 (RDEU)-6 and Buenavista Police Station arrested three suspected drug peddlers at Barangay Mclain, Buenavista town.

They are Resalde Hortillosa, 54, and Judie Pastolero, 32, both residents of Mclain village; and Ranguillyn Cepeda, 28, who hails from Barangay Bari, Sibalom, Antique.

Recovered from their possession were 13 sachets of suspected shabu and P1,500 cash.

For Garcia, “we respect the observation of the PNP Guimaras chief but our validation report indicates that it is used as a transshipment point.”

Atty. Wardley Getalla, PDEA-6 regional director, said that they have monitored “discreet” illegal drug activities in Guimaras.

Maingat na ‘yung nga nagpu-push dyan. They would lie low for a while then go back to their operations again,” he added.

As far as PDEA is concerned, only the barangays in the town of Sibunag were declared drug-cleared.

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