Taguig LGU suspends support to PDEA, demands return of building after drug chief busted for shabu

The Taguig City government has temporarily suspended its support to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and demanded the return of a building it allowed for use as the agency's office after the PDEA southern district chief and three others were caught in a P9.18 million shabu buy-bust operation.

On Dec. 6, the Philippine National Police’s National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Regional Drug Enforcement Unit, together with other operatives, conducted a buy-bust operation at the PDEA South District Office located along A. Bonifacio Street in Barangay Upper Bicutan, Taguig.

(From left) PDEA's Enrique Lucero attending the Taguig City Peace & Oder Council and Taguig Anti-Drug Abuse Council meeting on Sept. 30, Mayor Lani Cayetano at the turnover of the PDEA building in 2018 and the suspected shabu seized in the operation. (PDEA-NCR on Facebook, Taguig City government and SPD/NCRPO)

Arrested in the operation were Enrique Lucero, chief of the PDEA Southern District Office; PDEA agents Anthony Vic Alabastro and Jaireh Llaguno; and driver Mark Warren Mallo.

Seized during the operation were three sachets containing suspected shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) weighing 100 grams and valued at P680,000, one plastic of suspected shabu weighing 1,250 grams with a value of P8.5 million, P1,000 bill mixed with 99 pieces of P1,000 fake bills used as buy-bust money, a .40-caliber pistol and a digital weighing scale.

In a statement released on Dec. 9, the Taguig City government said that in 2018, it turned over a city-owned building for PDEA’s use as an office as part of its support to the agency.

“The City of Taguig condemns in unequivocal manner the illegal drug activities of PDEA Southern District Office Chief, two PDEA agents, and one driver who were arrested in an operation conducted at the city-owned building which serves as PDEA office. It is a betrayal of the highest order,” the city government said.

It added, “In 2018, the City escalated its support to PDEA's anti-drug mandate by turning over for its use a newly-constructed building. The City expected the agency to collaborate closely with the city's police and anti-drug abuse council.”

The city government condemned the use of its own building for alleged illegal drug activities.

“The criminal participation of drug enforcers in illicit drug activities, using facilities provided by the City, is repugnant and inexcusable. The involvement of PDEA officers in the criminal activities they are supposed to stop has forced the City to reconsider its decision,” the Taguig local government unit added.

As a result of the buy-bust operation, the Taguig City government said it “is temporarily suspending its support to and coordination with PDEA pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. The City insists that those involved should be held accountable.”

“The City would also demand that the building it has allowed PDEA to use be returned. It will be repurposed for a worthy public use,” it said.

According to the LGU, “the City will only resume its support to and cooperation with PDEA once it has shown serious efforts to cleanse its ranks of scalawags. The City is dead serious about the fight against illegal drugs. It demands the same level of commitment from PDEA.”

The Taguig City government said it “reiterates its Zero Tolerance Policy on illegal drugs, and warns all drug users and peddlers in Taguig, including those working in government, that their positions would not shield them from the full force of the law.”

“While the City is dismayed at PDEA's abject failure to monitor the activities of agents it stationed in Taguig, it is gratified that the PNP-NCRPO and the Southern Police District did not shrink from their duty to go after all drug violators particularly those who ironically are tasked to be on the forefront of the anti-drug campaign. The City thanks the PNP officers for their loyalty to their oaths of office,” it said.