P12.9-M worth marijuana plants uprooted in Sulu

John Unson - Philstar.com
P12.9-M worth marijuana plants uprooted in Sulu
Anti-narcotic agents seized and destroyed 15,000 marijuana plants in a farm in an operation in Kalingalan Caluang town in Sulu last Sunday.
Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Anti-narcotics agents uprooted P12.9 million worth of marijuana shrubs neatly planted in rows in an upland farm in Barangay Masjid Punjungan in Kalingalan Caluang town in Sulu on Sunday.

Gil Cesario Castro, director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, told reporters here on Tuesday that their agents, backed by policemen and soldiers, immediately set on fire the 15,000 marijuana plants, worth P12,900,000, that they uprooted in Barangay Masjid Punjungan after collecting specimens to be used as evidence in prosecuting its propagators for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

PDEA-BARMM agents learned of the presence of the marijuana farm in the area as they were to entrap two of its owners, the relatives Rene Onji and Amah Jul Onji, in a supposed tradeoff in one spot in Kalingalan Caluang that went awry when they both ran away when they noticed that they were to sell P6,000 worth of dried marijuana leaves to non-uniformed anti-narcotics agents.

Combined PDEA-BARMM agents, personnel of different units under the Sulu Provincial Police Office and soldiers from the 21st Infantry Battalion who tried to chase the duo, who had eventually escaped, found their marijuana farm instead.

“Our personnel in the province, together with counterparts in the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army, had a big accomplishment that day,” Castro said.

Castro said it was municipal officials and senior members of the Sulu Provincial Peace and Order Council led by its chairperson, Gov. Hadji Abdusakur Tan Sr., who informed the PDEA-BARMM and the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region about the large-scale peddling of marijuana in the province by the Onjis, now both at large.

Castro and PRO-BAR’s director, Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza, separately told reporters they are to work together in prosecuting the Onjis in absentia.

“We have the support of local officials and willing witnesses in building an airtight criminal case against the two of them and their cohorts,” Nobleza said.

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