Eighteen months into President Rodrigo Duterte’s relentless war on illegal drugs, the price of shabu (methamphetamine) has become extremely high.
Director Emerson Margate of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) said a gram of shabu has soared from P1,500 to P8,000 in the region due to the government’s clampdown on illegal drugs.
And some of the shabu being sold, he said, only contain 10 to 17 percent of its original ingredients.
“This is a good sign that the illegal drugs trade is not as bad as before,” Margate said in an interview on Thursday.
He said the PDEA welcomed the decision of President Duterte to allow the Philippine National Police (PNP) to resume its illegal drugs operation.
For about two months that the police were prohibited from conducting anti-narcotics operation, Margate said the PDEA-7 received several tips on illegal drug activities in the region.
“There were so many reports. However, we could only do so much since PDEA-7 lacks manpower,” he said.
“We’re grateful that president Duterte decided to revive the PNP’s participation in the war on drugs considering the enormity of the problem,” he added.
As both the PDEA and PNP join forces in trying to curb illegal drugs, Margate vowed to follow the rules of engagements in pursuing drug suspects and to respect human rights.
“The standing order is maximum tolerance for drug suspects. We need to follow what is allowed by law. Of course, we also have to ensure the safety of our raiding teams. But as much as possible, we need to exercise maximum tolerance,” he explained.
Margate called on the local government units and the community to help law enforcers in fighting the drug menace.
He said PDEA will help stop the entry of illegal drugs from other countries by assigning agents in the ports to help in the monitoring and inspection of goods.
PDEA, he said, will also put up a satellite office at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City in the hope of ending the illegal drugs trade inside the facility.
President Duterte on Tuesday ordered the PNP to actively support the PDEA in the war on drugs.
This is the second time that president Duterte recalled his earlier order and allowed the PNP to rejoin the war on drugs.
In January, he stopped all police units and stations in the country from conducting anti-illegal drug operations after narcotics officers were linked to the kidnapping and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo inside the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City.
With the PNP sidelined, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) solely took into their hands the fight against drugs.
But barely a month later, president Duterte ordered the PNP to rejoin the campaign against illegal drugs because the drug menace reportedly became resurgent.
Last October 11, President Duterte again stripped the PNP of its role in the drug war following the August killing of 17-year-old Kian Lloyd Delos Santos by the police that sparked public outrage after a security camera showed the victim in custody, contrary to a police report that he was a drug dealer who tried to shoot them.
On Tuesday, the country’s top executive again called the police back to his war on drugs, saying there was a “notable resurgence in illegal drugs” when policemen took a step back in the campaign.