Abalos explains reduction in weight, value of recent drug haul

Abalos explains reduction in weight, value of recent drug haul
Photo from Presidential Communications Office

DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. explained on Thursday, April 18, 2024, the disparity on the weight and value of what was tagged earlier as the “biggest drug haul in the country’s history.”

In a press conference in Camp Crame, Abalos assured transparency in the operation that resulted in the discovery of 1,424.253 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) with an estimated value of P9,684,920,400.

Following the apprehension on Monday, April 15, authorities estimated the value of the seized illegal drugs at P13.3 billion, weighing around two tons.

“Ito lang po ang masasabi ko napaliwanag na po natin na ‘yung statement natin (earlier) lahat are based on estimate. Ang proseso ay naging very transparent, may tatlong testigo lahat kumukuha ng camera mula nung umaga hanggang kinabukasan naka camera po yan, kumpleto, open to the public yan,” said Abalos.

(This is all I can say. We have already explained that our statements (earlier) are all based on estimates. The process was very transparent, there were three witnesses all taking cameras from the morning until the next day, the camera was on, it was complete, it was open to the public.)

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday, April 16, personally visited the then ongoing inventory of the drug haul.

Last year, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been in hot water over the pilferage of over 42 kilos of shabu from an anti-illegal drugs operation in Manila in 2022, which based on report, resulted in the seizure of 990 kilos of illegal drugs worth P6.7 billion and the arrest of then a police officer.

This prompted Abalos to call on all-star-ranked police officers to render their courtesy resignation as part of investigation on the matter.

In July, Marcos accepted the resignation from service of 18 third-level police officers following the recommendation of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) over their alleged involvement in illegal drugs activities.

In the same press conference, Batangas Provincial Prosecutor Attorney Lourdes Zapanta said that they do not see the disparity between the initial estimate and the final inventory will affect the case against the arrested suspect Ajalon Michael Zarate, who was charged with violations of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and Republic Act 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

“Wala epekto kung gaano karami kasi hindi ko alam kung bakit parang may pagdududa ay kitang kita naman ninyo noong panahon na nagbibigay at nag-mulat ay hindi pa tapos ang imbentaryo kaya sa simula pa lamang ay talaga estimate o kalkula,” she said.

(It doesn't matter how much there is because I don't know why there seems to be doubt. You can see it that at the time the amount was given, the inventory was ongoing, so from the beginning, it was really an estimate or calculation.)

“Sana po ang inyong pag-aalinglangan at pagdududa ay inyong alisin na kasi sinabi ng ating (DILG) secretary at ng mahal na Pangulong na ito ay estimate so there should be no doubt. We are overwhelmed by the quantity of the drugs,” she added.

(I hope you will remove your doubts because our (DILG) secretary and the dear President said that this is an estimate, so there should be no doubt. We are overwhelmed by the quantity of the drugs.)

Meanwhile, PNP Chief General Rommel Marbil said that as investigators conducted follow-up investigation and operation, they have put on hold a yacht in Nasugbu, Batangas that was believed to have been used to transport the seized illegal drugs in the country.

He said they are also looking into several other vehicles and houses linked to the suspect and the illegal drug activities.

PNP Calabarzon Director Brigadier General Paul Kenneth Lucas said Zarate joined the US military in 1997 and left in 2005.

He went back to the country in 2008 and established a fitness center in Metro Manila. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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