Anti-drug agency links Naga City's Peñafrancia festival, conventions as "factors" to thriving drug trade | BICOL TODAY

Anti-drug agency links Naga City’s Peñafrancia festival, conventions as “factors” to thriving drug trade

By Joey Natividad

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – President Duterte, tagging Naga City as “hotbed of shabu” during his latest interview aired by CNN Philippines, was validated by anti-drug agencies as “most probable” when it linked up tourism-driven events such as the Penafrancia Festival and other festivities to the thriving illegal drug trade.

The exposure of this city as “shabu hotbed” came up when Duterte floated the idea Tuesday that he might quit for not efficiently gaining grounds in his anti-corruption and anti-drug campaigns.

Duterte, singled out Vice President Leni Robredo, as not “competent” to replace him as successor once he steps down, and instead prefer forming a military junta whom he would swear in, if his chosen preference for Bongbong Marcos or Senator Chiz Esudero as his likely “successor” would not materialize.

Duterte’s assertion of Robredo’s hometown as “hotbed of shabu” was given seriousness by law enforcement agencies and validated the report.

After the President’s announcement, reports said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the Bicol Region has acted forward in validating the report.

“There are persistent reports of drug trafficking and drug operation in Naga,” Interior Officer-In-Charge Eduardo Año said in a media briefing shortly after the President’s announcement Tuesday.

He said anti-drug operations are focused on the Bicol region, his office receiving daily reports of illegal drug operations in Naga City.

Meanwhile, Dangerous Drugs Board Chief Catalino Cuy said, in a news briefing in Manila, PDEA, the lead agency in the drug war. is validating these reports.

In a media announcement Tuesday night, Duterte said shabu has been proliferating in Robredo’s hometown Naga, as he again casts doubt on her competence as the second top government official.

“Of course she will deny it. But you can ask the hotbed of shabu in the past years, I would not mention the name… It was Naga City,” Duterte said.

Duterte’s drug-tagging of Naga has caused the ire of Bicolanos, but PDEA in Bicol defended the President.

Gil Castro, PDEA Bicol spokesperson, over media interview Wednesday, explained “that there are factors to consider as basis of the statement.”

Accessibility is a factor, he said, taking note that based on the agency’s comprehensive assessment on the war on illegal drugs, Naga City has become the transshipment point of illegal drugs because of its proximity to other progressive regions such as the Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and the Visayas regions.

“Bicol’s land and sea connectivity with other regions make us a transshipment point for illegal drugs operation – illegal drug trading operation are using the highways, and shorelines as the mode of transportation,” Castro said.

He observed the holding of festivals and conventions is also a factor as it is where illegal drug operations thrive.

Bicol has major festivals for tourism namely, Peñafrancia Festival in Naga City, Ibalong Festival in Legazpi City, Kasanggayahan in Sorsogon, Rodeo in Masbate and Abaca Festival in Catanduanes, both Legazpi and Naga Cities as convention hubs.

The anti-drug agency has linked these activities to the flourishing drug trade.

PDEA Bicol had reported that for the period January to June this year, it had carried out 337 drug operations where it seized 6.3 kilos of crystal meth (shabu), 26 kilos of cocaine and 516 grams of marijuana with a total street value of PHP142.2 million.

Within the period, it arrested 426 drug personalities of which 82 were considered high-value targets, including three foreign nationals (Nigerians), two government officials and nine government employees.

Castro said Naga City has become among the top tourist destinations in the country primarily because of the Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in September when millions of devotees, as well as local and foreign tourists, stay in this city to observe the week-long religious event.

Where many people converge, illegal drug operators take advantage of the frenzy by unloading and selling their substances. []

Posted by on August 16, 2018. Filed under Headlines,Nation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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