Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. commended the anti-illegal drug operation in Pampanga that led to the confiscation of about P408-million worth of shabu.

The operation, conducted by the joint elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), took place in front of Mega Station along North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) KM 62, Brgy. San Felipe in San Fernando, Pampanga on July 28, 2022.

Authorities said more or less 60 kilograms of shabu were seized from a suspect who is a resident of Caloocan City.

“Congratulations! Ang galing ng kapulisan, ang galing ng PDEA. Ang galing ng lahat!” Abalos exclaimed as he led the presentation of the confiscated illegal drugs to the media.

The DILG Chief likewise applauded the three witnesses who accompanied the authorities in the operation, which is one of the biggest drug hauls this year.

“Itong tatlong ito na kasama natin sa operasyon, mga bayani rin ito. Kapitan salamat, sa miyembro ng media na sumama, pati rin sa taga-DOJ [Department of Justice] na nandito sa ating operation,” Abalos said.

“This is a symbol of our cooperation and bayanihan. And what is important is that no one is harmed and the whole operation was in accordance with the law,” he added.

Abalos noted that the operation will dispel criticisms that the government’s war against illegal drugs only targets small-time drug dealers.

Since becoming Secretary of the Interior and Local Government early this month, Abalos, a lawyer by profession, has been calling on local chief executives (LCEs) to hire or appoint personnel solely dedicated to accompanying law enforcers in anti-illegal drug operations to stand as witnesses during the inventory of operations and to help build up cases against drug suspects.

This is after he lamented how most of the drug cases are being dismissed due to the absence of witnesses mandated under Section 21 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which requires an elected public official, usually a barangay official, and a representative of the National Prosecution Service or the media to sign the copies of the inventory.

Abalos’ plea to the mayors stemmed from the success of Mandaluyong City in building up airtight cases against drug suspects. He noted that since the practice was implemented, the city only recorded few dismissals of drug cases.

Relentless drug war to continue

Secretary Abalos also stressed that the relentless crackdown on illegal drugs, which was initiated by the previous administration, will continue under the leadership of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

He explained that the government will now address the drug menace at the grassroots level by strengthening the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADACs).

Aside from this, the Marcos Jr. administration's campaign against drugs, according to Abalos, will focus on demand reduction with a good balance on law enforcement, apprehension, and filing of cases based on the rule of law.

“We will intensify this war on drugs. Walang tigil ito, pukpukan ito. But this time, we will complement our anti-drug operations with the full force of the law. We will make sure that the cases, especially those against high-profile drug suspects, are airtight,” Abalos said.

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