No drug group operates in Iloilo City, top cop says

Colonel Joeresty Coronica, Iloilo City police chief(Jennifer P. Rendon Photo)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

A much bigger volume of illegal drugs has been confiscated in the series of police operations in Iloilo City.

But the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) maintained that it has not monitored any drug group operating in the area.

“It’s a free-for-all trade unlike before that the operation is controlled by only a few individuals,” Colonel Joeresty Coronica, Iloilo City police chief, said.

Before, there was a group that maintained a territory but that’s not the case in the past several years.

“Now, if you have a contact in Luzon, you could consign your supply for distribution,” he said.

That’s why, those small-time illegal drug dealers who were arrested and jailed were able to build their drug business because of the connection they established while they were behind bars.

“When they get out of jail, instead of getting reformed, some of them went back to the trade and, this time, with more supplies and wider connection,” Coronica said.

Despite the series of operations, many still ventured into the illegal drug business because it remains to be a lucrative “livelihood” for some.

But just like the hundreds who have already been arrested, “at the end of the day, we will still catch them,” he said.

Since Coronica assumed post on Jan. 27, 2023 until Oct. 26, different ICPO units were able to conduct 302 operations.

The ICPO City Drug Enforcement Unit (CDEU) headed by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Benitez II conducted 75 operations while the Iloilo City Police Station 1 with 44; ICPS2 with 28; ICPS3 with 47; ICPS with 33; ICPS5 with 37; and ICPS6 with 34.

These operations led to the arrest of 474 individuals who are mostly street level pushers at 320.

On the other hand, 107 “high value individuals” (HVIs) were nabbed, 32 who were not on the watchlist, and 15 through warrants of arrest.

Around 6.272 kilos of shabu were seized, and valued at P42.653 million. But if the street price is to be used, the seized drugs’ value was at P125 million.

Meanwhile, other units, along with ICPO operatives, have also conducted illegal drug operations in Iloilo City.

The Regional Police Drug Enforcement Unit (RPDEU) 6 led 25 anti-narcotics operations; the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) with 10; and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG) did one operation.