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Drug situation worsens; 31 celebrities on watchlist

The recent confiscation of more than a billion pesos worth of shabu shows that big-time drug traffickers are using the Philippines as a transshipment point, the police said Tuesday.

“International drug syndicates continue to mock our laws and smuggle in large volumes of illegal drugs as seen in the recent confiscation and arrest of foreign nationals,” said Philippine National Police spokesman Sr. Supt. Bernard Banac.

Last week, state anti-narcotics agents seized some P1.1 billion of shabu inside the posh village of Ayala Alabang in Muntinlupa and arrested three Chinese nationals—Cua Kian Kok, 43; Go Kei Kei, 40; Li Zhao Yang, 19 and a Filipino, Emmanueal Pascual, 79.

Agents from the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency found 43.5 kilograms of shabu worth P295 million in the parking lot of Festival Mall and another 123 kilograms of shabu worth P836 million in Ayala Alabang Village.

Banac agreed with the assessment of President Rodrigo Duterte that the drug situation was worsening.

But the Department of the Interior and Local Government said the number of drug users has fallen dramatically as a result of the government’s relentless war on drugs.

Interior Department spokesman Jonathan Malaya said that with the continued arrest of either drug pushers or users following aggressive police operations, the government is winning the war on drugs.

The Palace, meanwhile, said the PDEA should file charges against local celebrities involved in the illegal drug trade.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Palace is saddened by the PDEA’s report that 31 celebrities have been included in the government’s watch list of suspected drug personalities.

“We’re saddened that these people are involved. But we will never tolerate it. If there is sufficient evidence, then they [authorities] should and they must [file charges],” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.

PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino confirmed that 31 “popular” celebrities are listed in their drug watch list, but said these names had not yet been validated.

Aquino said the agency has recovered text messages from a male celebrity who allegedly bought 200 pieces of ecstasy from slain drug dealer Steve Pasion.

Pasion, a suspected big-time ecstasy supplier, was killed two weeks ago in an operation by PDEA operatives. President Duterte has vowed to shower anti-drug enforcers with a P1.5-million reward for the death of Pasion.

“They even serve as role models as the youth look up to them but in reality, they order as much as 200 pieces ecstasy,” Aquino said, adding that some of the personalities in the drug watch list are television hosts and even portray wholesome roles in showbiz.

In an interview on radio dzMM, Aquino said he has already coordinated with his counterparts from at least 55 countries to determine the point of origin of hauls of cocaine bricks found floating in Philippine waters.

Aquino acknowledged they were facing a blank wall.

“Even the United States [of America] Drug Enforcement Administration and the countries we have communicated with are also facing a blank wall,” he added. With Rio N. Araja

Topics: Bernard Banac , Philippine National Police , Cua Kian Kok , illegal drugs , Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency
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