LEGAZPI CITY, May 29 (PNA) -- "We expect to be busiest once Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte sits as our new president," the information officer of the Philippine Drug Information Agency-Bicol regional office based in Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here said in relation to Duterte's vow to eradicate the drug problem within six months once he sits as the head of the country.
Cotton Yuson said that although they cannot promise to do it in six months, they would surely be most occupied in going after drug criminals once Duterte assumes as president although, she said, the PDEA has been very busy in their continuous efforts in intelligence gathering and monitoring of drug suspects in the region.
Yuson said that in the past months, the PDEA has been concentrating on "high impact operation" wherein its agents targeted high volume seizures or drugs, especially shabu, that have weights of 50 grams and above, drug laboratories and drug dens, and "high-value targets" like big drug personalities, government officials and employees, politicians down to the barangay level who have big drug transactions.
She added that her office is now prepared to submit reports to Duterte for the period September 2015 to April 2016.
During the period, the PDEA Bicol spokesperson said, the agency confiscated more than four kilos of shabu during its high impact operations like the raid on the residence of Ryan Santos Comprado on Sept. 14, 2015 in Sitio Sagrada Familia, Barangay Peñafrancia, Naga City wherein PDEA agents seized 1,136.99 grams of shabu.
The PDEA-Bicol also caught Cherrylyn N. Estacio in a buy-bust operation at Wiltan Hotel in Barangay 5, Daet, Camarines Norte on Nov. 7, 2015 and confiscated 1,012.72 grams of shabu.
The third successful operation happened in a buy-bust operation on Nov. 10, 2015 against Vergel D. Deuna in Tabaco Port, Barangay Cormidal, Tabaco City, from whom they got 1,004.29 grams of shabu.
Their latest successful exploit was during the joint operation of the PDEA, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Ligao City Police Station on April 1, 2016 in Ligao City against suspect Eduardo Embido who yielded one kilo of shabu.
"We expect to bag more big and known people under the Regional Target Lists and Drug Watch Lists as high-value targets in the days to come," Yuson said.
Last year, she said, the PDEA caught a "big fish" in the person of the vice mayor of a Masbate town who was running a clandestine laboratory of illegal drug, government employees, politicians and barangay officials.
The PDEA in Camarines Sur had the highest netted suspects because of its large area of coverage that has a big population compared to the other provinces of the Bicol Region.
In 2015, there were 814 drug suspects that fell into the dragnets of authorities wherein 33 were collared by the PDEA; 687 were caught by the Philippine National Police and and 94 were the result of joint operations of the PNP and the PDEA.
From January 2016 to date, 271 were handcuffed by the law enforcers -- PDEA, nine; PNP, 231; and 31, joint operations of the two agencies.
"Despite its successful operations, however, the PDEA regional office is faced with lack of personnel," Yuson said.
Aside from Regional Director Bryan Babang, the agency has only 76 men in the region, of which 50 percent are agents or operatives while the other half handles the administrative and technical functions.
"Each province has only five agents/operatives so that the support being given by the PNP during joint operations is very valuable," the information officer said.
Yuson said they expect to have additional personnel in Bicol once the candidates undergoing training in their main office graduate. (PNA) SCS/FGS/JH/CBD/pjn