PNP to target condos in drug operations

Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police will intensify its intelligence-driven operations against illegal drug syndicates, which have apparently shifted their operations to condominiums, PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said yesterday.

PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar issued the directive after a marijuana farm, with 137 potted kush plants valued at P2.2 million, was discovered in a condominium unit in Taguig City on Thursday.

“We need to intensify our intelligence gathering kung ganito na ba ang style ngayon ng mga sindikato ng droga, lalo na sa (if this is now the style of drug syndicates, particularly with) marijuana,” Eleazar said in a statement.

He said drug syndicates may have shifted their operations due to the PNP’s continued anti-drug operations.

“Posibleng may iba na ring gumagawa nito dahil mahirap mahuli kung ganitong nasa loob ng (It is possible that others are also doing this because it is difficult to catch these activities in a) condominium,” Eleazar said.

He warned drug rings of relentless operations both from the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to curb the proliferation of marijuana.

An investigation is underway to determine if the two suspects who were arrested in the condominium unit, retired United Air Forces serviceman Raul Cisneros and his partner Meljie Maquiling, are part of a drug syndicate.

“We will check if they are connected to other drug groups,” Eleazar said.

Standoff probed

Meanwhile, Eleazar said he will meet with PDEA director general Wilkins Villanueva to iron out issues between the two agencies following a standoff on Friday.

The near-shootout “has been settled but will still be investigated,” he said in a text message to The STAR.

“Illegal drug syndicates are taking advantage of the weaknesses or gaps in the rules of procedure on coordination and inter-operations between the PNP and the PDEA,” he said in a statement.

The standoff occurred in the parking lot of a shopping mall in Barangay Greater Lagro on Friday afternoon. Anti-narcotics officers from the Novaliches police station were about to stage a drug bust when PDEA operatives from Calabarzon appeared.

Tensions rose between the two groups after the PDEA operatives, who were armed, ordered the police officers to lay down their firearms.

A shootout was averted when both sides were able to confirm they are from government law enforcement agencies.

Eleazar said they will look into the issue “beyond coordination concerns. What is the problem, why this issue keeps on recurring?”

In February, four were killed in a shootout between PDEA and QCPD operatives along Commonwealth Avenue.

Quezon City Police District director Brig. Gen. Antonio Yarra said the community quarantine is among the factors that led to the standoff.

He said the venues for drug busts are limited because of quarantine restrictions that have been imposed since last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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