Iloilo City is ‘most shabulized’ no more?

There is no more “centralized drug syndicate” in Iloilo City, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-6).

PDEA-6 Director Alex Tablate on Tuesday, Feb. 6, said the apprehensions of “transient pushers” from outside the Western Visayas region “could be an indicator that the city is no longer controlled by a centralized drug syndicate compared to previous years.”

“You are from this place, you can compare ‘yong status ng Iloilo way back in 2016. Ang laki ng difference compared ngayon.”

Tablate claimed that only transient drug peddlers are operating the city.

“Madami tayong nahuhuli na mga transient, ibig sabihin they are not from this place so pumupunta lang dito. Unlike before wala nang kumukontrol na grupo,” he said.

In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte branded Iloilo City as the “most shabulized” in the country.

Tablate said the tag challenged authorities to intensify the anti-drug campaign in the city.

“‘Yong mga trabaho natin…’yon ang magdadala sa atin. Ang Iloilo at this point may mga ginawa, may pagbabago at it should be supported nang mga ginagawa natin ngayon,” he stressed.

Senior Superintendent Martin Defensor Jr., Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, noted a significant decline in the volume of illegal drugs confiscated in the city.

“Ang amount of drugs na naconfiscate na reduced by 50 percent, an indication na bumaba talaga yung pumasok na supply ng drugs sa city,” he said.

Last year, ICPO carried out 197 anti-illegal drug operations, which resulted in the apprehension of 282 suspects.

In 2017, a total of 306 drug personalities were arrested in 199 anti-drug operations.

ICPO seized 14.5343 grams of marijuana and 328.5561 grams of shabu last year, lower compared to 254.9287 grams of marijuana and 668.9716 grams of shabu confiscated in 2017.

Meanwhile, Tablate disclosed that most of the illegal drug transactions transpire in “drug hotspots” in the city.

There are 10 PDEA-identified hotspots in the city. These are Bakhaw in Mandurriao; Tanza-Esperanza and Zamora-Melliza and Rizal Pala-pala in City Proper; Desamparados and Cubay in Jaro; San Juan and Boulevard in Molo; Sto. Niño Sur in Arevalo; and Rizal in La Paz.

Of the 180 barangays in the city, 170 are drug-affected, of which 69 are slightly affected, 93 are moderately affected and eight are seriously affected.

Only four barangays have already been cleared of illegal drugs by the Regional Oversight Committee.

PDEA-6 further assessed that location wise, the city is surrounded by accessible ports, shorelines and terminals with minimal security protocols, hence, access to these illegal drugs by users and small-time peddlers are still proliferating.

“The different law enforcement units right now are adopting initiatives and strategies to continue regating these drug personalities as well as constant “visibility” efforts of the operatives in public places to deter them from continuously peddling illegal drugs,” said Tablate.

According to PDEA-6, there are no clandestine laboratories, marijuana plantations and, diversion of chemicals in Western Visayas.IMT