BACOLOD CITY – The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOCPPO) has acknowledged the challenges it is facing in the campaign against illegal drugs, but vowed to be relentless in pursuing those involved in its operations.

Following a series of multi-million drug hauls in northern Negros this year, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Western Visayas (PDEA-6) considers the province a major challenge area in the region.

Lt. Abegael Donasco, the spokesperson of NOCPPO, said on Tuesday Negros Occidental is being used as a transit area of drugs supply bound for neighboring provinces and regions.

“We consistently conduct monitoring operations. There are many things that we still have to work on. There are still small-time drug users and sellers,” she added.

Donasco said they tap the force multipliers and members of the barangay intelligence network to help the police locate the presence of individuals involved in illegal drugs, while it is the PDEA that pursues big-time drug personalities and the police provide support during the operations.

Large volumes of illegal drugs are usually confiscated in the northern part of the province, but a recent operation in Kabankalan City in the south had led to the arrest of three Vicente siblings and the recovery of PHP238,000 worth of suspected shabu.

“We need to step up operations to see if we can still have more recoveries in southern Negros,” Donasco said.

Last March 4, police operatives recovered five kilos of shabu worth PHP34 million during a buy-bust along the national highway in Barangay Old Poblacion, Escalante City.

The arrested suspect Vicente Sepuesca was a resident of Araneta Street, Barangay Sum-ag, Bacolod City.

On February 10, operatives confiscated 500 grams of the same prohibited substance valued at PHP3.4 million along Osmeña Avenue, Barangay 21 in Victorias City.

Arrested were Jesther Soquena and Biboy Dacumos, residents of Doña Juliana Subdivision, Barangay Taculing and Purok Lison, Barangay 1, respectively also in Bacolod.

Also on January 12, top drug personality Joel Rizardo was arrested by joint operatives during a buy-bust that led to the recovery of PHP10.2 million worth of suspected shabu in Barangay Guadalupe, San Carlos City.

PDEA-6 Regional Director Alex Tablate said they are facing a continuing challenge in Negros Occidental because of its coastline that serves as entry points of illegal drugs.

“For Negros Occidental, it is still the area where we are facing the most challenges. We are fortunate we have recovered those large volumes otherwise, the supply would have been distributed to the communities,” he added. (PNA)