MORE than P99 million worth of illegal drugs stored at the evidence room of Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Central Visayas were destroyed Monday, May 30, 2022.

The drugs, which were seized and confiscated by and surrendered to PDEA-Central Visayas and police, were brought Monday to the thermal facility of the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes on Junquera Street, Cebu City for burning.

The burning, which happened around 10 a.m., had court permission, said PDEA.

Most of the drugs burned were methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) at 13.3 kilos worth P90,738,649.20, while the others include 74 kilos of dried marijuana leaves worth P8,885,700, and 4.4 kilos of ephedrine worth P7,097.60.

The drugs were inspected by chemists for authenticity before the substances were burned. The burning was witnessed by court officials and representatives from the barangays and the media, among others.

PDEA-Central Visayas Director Levi Ortiz said they burned only those covered by their permit issued by the court, adding that Monday’s activity was the eighth time since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his war on drugs in 2016.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 21 Executive Judge Pamela Baring-Uy said that about 100 illegal drug cases are filed every day and in a month, hundreds of people are arrested and charged due to illegal drugs.

She said this just shows how big the illegal drug problem is in the country, adding that this might have escalated into something better is the current administration is not addressing the problem.

“Araw-araw na lang po mayrong kaso ng droga na sinasampa sa husgado. Average 100, sa akin na lang po everyday na ra-raffle sa akin ay 100 to 150 a day, so imagine nyo po in a month thousand,” said Baring-Uy.

She commended the police and PDEA-Central Visayas for Monday’s activity, saying it showed how series the government is in the fight against the illegal substances.

She said the illegal drug problem has to be stopped to also stop the crimes and the destruction of families.

“This event be a motivation an inspiration and a thriving force for us to remember our duty and responsibility to our country and to our people to ensure that this country is a safe and secure place to each and every one of us to live and thrive in, with that congratulations,” she added.

She said the government’s war on drugs is effective, noting that based on the Dangerous Drugs Board’s data, the number of people using illegal drugs was reduced from four million in 2016 to 1.15 million.

Ortiz, meanwhile, denied allegations that the illegal drug problem persists because the PDEA is recycling the substances seized in its operations.

He said this is impossible because the facility where the drugs are kept cannot just be opened by anyone, stressing three people are holding the keys to the room.

“Kanang atong evidence facility sa PDEA dili maabli kung bisan kinsa lang kay ang naay yawe ana, me as a regional director, our chief chemist and our property custodian, unya di na maabli kung dili nako ablihan and recorded ang atong pag open,” said Ortiz.

(Our evidence facility cannot be easily opened, as the keys are with me, as the regional director, our chief chemist and our property custodian, and we cannot just open it without it being recorded.)

According to the law, the illegal drugs seized or confiscated must be destroyed immediately.

But Ortiz said they could not destroy it immediately because they do not have a burning facility for it.

The PDEA assured though that in June, they will again burn the other illegal substances under their custody. (AYB/LMY)