THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Davao Region said their office seized P555,959.15 worth of illegal drugs during the first two months of the year.

Superintendent Roybel M. Sanchez, PDEA regional director, said more than half a million worth of drugs were confiscated from 40 operations conducted from January to February, which led to the arrest of 47 drug suspects and filing of charges in court.

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Data on the exact breakdown of confiscated drugs was, however, not available. The bulk of which, he said, are marijuana plants and dried leaves.

"We are in full blast in our campaign against (illegal) drugs this year. We are (also) spearheading an educational campaign. We go to schools, private and public, to give seminars and lectures to students, same with the barangays. We assess the situation," Sanchez said citing the Holy Cross of Davao College, Ateneo de Davao University, University of Mindanao as among the schools where anti-drugs symposiums have been conducted.

Sanchez said they have adopted an active stand this time and taken initiatives to fight against the spread of illegal drugs industry. He said it has resulted to effective dissemination of information on the ill effects of illegal drugs and prevention.

Sanchez, who is at the helm of the PDEA 11 since April 20, 2009, credited the successful narcotic operations to competent personnel due to constant trainings.

The PDEA 11 chief said come 3rd week of April he will be attending a Narcotics Commanders Course in Bangkok, Thailand sponsored by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.

The drug agency's two-way approach to the drug problem, Sanchez said, proved effective. It consists of demand reduction through anti-drugs info campaign in schools and barangays and supply reduction by cutting the supply routes and targeting the main source of illegal drugs.

Significant anti-drugs operation was the seizure of 300 marijuana seedlings and uprooting of 1,500 full grown marijuana plants in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur on February 26, near the Sagittarius Mining Incorporated (SMI). Charges have been filed against the arrested suspect, Boy Bungan, and Dialang Malid, who is still at large.

Sanchez, meanwhile, urged barangay officials to do their share in constantly monitoring their areas and inform PDEA of their needs in the fight against the proliferation of illegal drugs. Parents also play a major role by monitoring the activities of their children, he said.

He also sought the help of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council to campaign to the youth. "The youth of today is the future of tomorrow, sama-sama tayong lahat na sugpuin ang droga," he added. (Dean Rey L. Pondoc)