AROUND P13.7 million worth of marijuana plants were burned and destroyed following a joint operation by authorities in the hinterlands of Loreto town in Agusan del Sur Saturday afternoon, October 15.
Police Inspector Aldrin Salinas, station commander of the Loreto Municipal Police Station, said the joint operation was mounted by elements from the municipal, provincial, regional and special police units as well as soldiers from the 26th Infantry Battalion.
Salinas said a total of 29,000 fully grown marijuana plants were uprooted from one site in the mountainous part of Sitio Mactan in the village of Kasapa 1, Loreto town, Agusan del Sur.
An adjoining site, separated from the other site by about 100 meters, has around 26,000 plants, Salinas said.
The combined number of plants from the two sites totaling some 55,000 plants, has an estimated value of P13,775,000 according to the Dangerous Drug Board.
“We immediately burned majority of the plants with the presence of our acting Agusan del Sur provincial director Police Senior Superintendent Joseph Plaza and the Regional Director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Gilbert Buenafe who was with us. We carried a handful of plants down to the town center to be used for the ceremonial burning,” Salinas said.
Salinas said the operation was participated by around 110 personnel from the Provincial Public Safety Company, two companies of the Regional Public Safety Battalion, Special Action Force or SAF, soldiers from the 26th Infantry Battalion, and village representatives.
The policemen and soldiers departed from the Loreto police station at 12 a.m. Friday and arrived at the village of Kasapa around 5 p.m.
“We arrived in populated community of Sitio Mactan at around 8:30 in the morning. From there, we started hiking for another 6 hours hike going to the area, crossed about 4 creeks, 8 kilometers but due to the height and terrain with almost 90 degrees stiff climbs that is why it took us that long to hike, arriving in the area at around 1:30 in the afternoon,” Salinas said.
Police Chief Superintendent Rolando Felix, regional director of Police Regional Office-Caraga, said the operation is part of the region’s heightened anti-illegal drugs campaign and comes at the heels of earlier raids against marijuana plantations in the region.
Police records show that on June 2, 2016, around P15,625,000 million worth of marijuana was seized in the mountain slopes of Sitio Pilang, Kasapa 1 village, Loreto town.
Then on June 15, 2016, another P6.6 million worth of marijuana were seized in the village of Waloe, Loreto.
On June 20, in the neighboring town of La Paz in Agusan del Sur, P4,562,500 million and then on August 2, 2016, P5,596,000 million worth of marijuana stalks and seedlings were handed over by the town’s number one high value weed cultivator to the municipal police station of Loreto.