GMA ADMITS SHORTCOMINGS IN ANTI-DRUG WAR

Shabu Drug Bust

[Photo from PhilStar: SHABU BUST: President Arroyo is briefed by Southern Luzon crime laboratory head Chief Superintendent Joy Cabal as she inspects shabu laboratory paraphernalia seized from a house in Silang, Cavite where four Chinese nationals and two Filipinos were arrested yesterday for manufacturing shabu. WILLY PEREZ]
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Malacanang, July 13, 2003 By Jaime Laude (Star) President Arroyo admitted shortcomings in the war on drugs even as authorities busted yesterday what they called a major shabu laboratory in Silang, Cavite and arrested four Chinese nationals and two of their Filipino cohorts.

Speaking during a meeting with relatives of drug dependents at Malacañang, Mrs. Arroyo said "the proliferation of drugs shows government’s failure to effectively enforce the law," but assured the people she was pushing the campaign against the problem.

She reiterated that she has set aside a P1-billion war chest against illegal drugs, a 10-fold increase in previous funding.

The President, who motored to Silang after the Palace meeting, said the government will "move against law enforcers, prosecutors and judges who set drug offenders free" as well as those who "free them for a fee."

Chief Superintendent Jaime Caringal, Calabarzon regional police chief, said the secret drug factory in Silang, Cavite was raided following a tip from residents.

The four-room bungalow was filled with sacks of chemicals, huge drums and equipment to manufacture shabu, Caringal said. But he said the suspects apparently not been able to mix the ingredients because they had just moved in.

Caringal identified the arrested suspects as Leandro Go, 52; William Chen, 21; Wilson Lee, 29; and Daniel Co, 28, all from Fujian province. Their alleged Filipino cohorts were identified as Arnel Villaser and Michael Pandag.

"This is the biggest shabu lab so far. It’s good that this early it was discovered. It can produce at least one ton of shabu daily if this place is fully operational," Caringal said.

Armed with a search warrant, policemen swooped down on the 530-square meter compound located in Barangay Cabangaan which can be seen from atop Tagaytay’s People’s Park.

Raiding lawmen found inside the four-bedroom bungalow tons of chemicals used in the manufacture of shabu.

Sacks of crystalline substances and more than 30 sealed drums containing bluish granules were also found inside one of the bedrooms.

A certain Butch Floren Condia claimed his brother owned the house. He claimed the suspects, through an agent, got in touch with his brother and agreed to rent the house for P20,000 a month.

Caringal said police stumbled on the lab after residents reported hearing a loud explosion inside the house Thursday. The men refused help, making neighbors suspicious and prompting them to call police.

Sensing that they have been compromised, the suspects tried to escape but four of them were cornered by pursuing lawmen while the two others were later captured in Tagaytay City.

"This is a major catch and we hope to get more suspects. Unfortunately, the foreign suspects are not cooperating with us, they’re not talking," Cavite police chief Senior Superintendent Roberto Rosales said.

Mrs. Arroyo ordered Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. to immediately file the charges and destroy the chemicals and equipment seized from the suspects.

Mrs. Arroyo pointed out that the immediate filing of charges would erase allegations by certain sectors that the government’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs is being bungled by police operations.

She said she expects the charges would be filed Monday and once the court and prosecutors are able to inspect the evidence, its destruction must follow within 72 hours.

"Justice delayed is justice served," Mrs. Arroyo said. "Tuloy-tuloy ito kahit na matagal na proseso (this will continue despite the slow procedure) At least nakakulong naman sila (they are detained) this is what we call justice delayed is justice served."

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Anselmo Avenido said last month there are about 3.4 million drug users in the Philippines, mostly using shabu.

He said about 13 foreign and 175 local drug syndicates operate in the country, and police have seized about P5 billion worth of drugs and laboratory equipment and arrested 6,700 suspected pushers and traffickers over the past 10 months.

Sen. Robert Barbers, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and illegal drugs, said 22 of 37 foreigners arrested in drug busts last year were Chinese, indicating that drug syndicates from China "still consider the Philippines as the main transshipment point of illegal drugs to other countries." - With Rene Alviar, AP


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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