DAVAO CITY—Five people were killed while 65 others were arrested on Friday when government troops and antinarcotics agents raided at least 10 villages in this city for a major anticriminality drive.
Senior Insp. Ma. Teresita Gaspan, city police spokesperson, said a minor, who was found in the company of crime suspects, was “rescued” during the combined antidrug, anticriminality and antiterror campaign in Davao, President Duterte’s home city where he served as mayor for more than 20 years.
Gaspan said five suspects, whom she did not name, died in a gunfight with the raiding teams.
She said at least 131 grams of suspected “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride), six handguns and two explosives were recovered during the raids where police served 34 arrest warrants and 18 search warrants.
Asked why the trading and use of illegal drugs continued in the city despite Mr. Duterte’s antidrug campaign, Senior Supt. Alexander Tagum, Davao police chief, said: “Evil men do not stop. We have to continuously fight them.”
Adzar Albani, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director in Southern Mindanao, said government teams would conduct operations in 13 other villages in the city soon. Davao City has 180 barangays.
“We conduct the raids based on the pieces of evidence that we get and the availability of search warrants,” he said.
Albani said the supply of illegal drugs in the city came mostly from provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
He said the raids did not target the poor, noting that some people belonging to prominent families in the city had been arrested in previous operations. He cited the arrests last year of a car shop owner, a member of a family that owned a local hotel, and a relative of the owners of a defunct bus company.
Mayor Sara Duterte, the President’s daughter, said she wanted to correct perceptions that only the poor were being targeted in the government’s antidrug campaign.
“There were also prominent individuals arrested. There is no rich or poor in drugs,” she said.
Mayor Duterte said many low-income individuals got hooked on drugs because “it’s easy money for them.”
She said the city was also trying to address the social aspect of the drug problem by implementing programs to help former drug users and pushers under Davao City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (Cadac).
Cadac, in January this year, launched Tabangan Ang Reformist Aron Naay Asenso, or Tara Na, to provide livelihood aid to reformed drug users.
“We will provide them with all the necessary interventions to help them get back on their feet and live normal and productive lives again,” said Michael Denton Aportadera, Cadac action officer. —ALLAN NAWAL AND JOSELLE BADILLA
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.