Pervasive problem

70 barangays classified as ‘drug infiltrated’
THE PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency is concentrating its operations on 70 “priority barangays” allegedly infiltrated with drugs in the wake of the 48-hour deadline by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for suspects to leave the city.

Adzhar Albani, PDEA-XI regional director, said out of the given figure, 67 were classified as ‘moderate’, while three are in the ‘severe’ level in terms of the presence of illegal drug users and dealers. There are 182 barangays in the city.

He declined to mention the barangays on account of operational reasons.

“We met with the mayor last [Wednesday] night and our top priority persons have not been sighted anymore in the city,” he said at the weekly iSpeak media forum in city hall,

But he declined to elaborate as the information is confidential in nature.

On Monday’s command conference, Duterte issued a 48- hour mandate for peddlers of illegal drugs to exit the city, and ordered the police to “shoot to kill” suspects who attempt to fight arresting officers.

Duterte was slammed by human rights groups and the Commission on Human Rights as they accused the mayor of turning a blind eye, at best, to the vigilante killings occuring in the city.

The mayor also did not deny his personal vendetta against drugs as he warned suspects several time to stay in the city at risk of their personal safety.

The “shoot to kill” order, said regional police spokesperson Supt. Antonio Rivera, doesn’t mean that the police officers will just shoot any drug suspect they arrest.

”Now, in the course of their illegal drug operation, the suspect fights back then the police will stand his ground,” he added. “If he feels that his life is in danger, then he must shoot to stay alive.”

City police spokesperson, Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz, said on last Wednesday’s AFP-PNP press conference that they also monitored drug personalities who left the city.

Sr. Supt. Vicente Danao Jr. on Monday already instructed all station commanders to intensify the operations against illegal drugs.

“I am warning these drug peddlers that if they do not leave the city it will be a risk on their lives,” said Danao.

Meanwhile, the PDEA-XI along with the Task Force Davao are also on alert in the coming All Souls’ and All Saints’ Day this weekend.

Albani and TFD commander Col. Cristobal Zaragoza said their respective agencies will be implementing checkpoints at various locations throughout the city, as well as the airport and seaport, on the looking for contraband coming in. (with Rhoda Grace B. Saron)