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Illegal drug trade in Zambo Norte probe

The House committee on dangerous drugs chaired by Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte) continued its hearing on House Resolution 456 which calls for an urgent inquiry, in aid of legislation, on illegal drug trading activities in Zamboanga del Norte.

Rep. Seth Frederick Jalosjos (1st District, Zamboanga del Norte), author of the resolution, said Zamboanga del Norte and Dipolog City have been mentioned as among the places involved in illegal drug trading transacted within the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

During the hearing, Jalosjos said the involvement of the province of Zamboanga del Norte and Dipolog City was only mentioned and not properly described by the resource persons or witnesses how the drug trading was done.

On 21 September 2016, Jalosjos delivered a privilege speech pertaining to the illegal drug trading in Zamboanga del Norte warranted by signed affidavits, memoranda and other documents from the informants and assets who are active personnel of the various local law enforcement agencies in Zamboanga del Norte.

In his opening remarks during the third hearing on the same subject matter, Barbers said the panel invited personalities who could be vital in the conduct of the hearing.

But the invited resource persons failed to attend the hearing and instead sent their regrets stating reasons such as medical and legal in nature for their non-appearance.

“The committee exerted all its efforts to invite personalities to be given the chance to answer allegations and shed light in the hearing in order for us to come up with remedial legislation and possible recommendations,” Barbers said.

He further said Jalosjos likewise asked and got the support of several witnesses to substantiate his allegations and his claims that there is really rampant illegal drug trading activities in the province.

Barbers revealed that of the five witnesses that Jalosjos presented and asked to be invited, four are already dead.

“And if my information is correct, out of the five, only one is still alive. We’d also like to invite the person, however, it could be difficult for us to to be able to access him because he is hiding and he fears for his life,” Barbers said.

“But just the same, with the presence of our resource persons, perhaps we would be able to cull out information and we will be able to substantiate enough in order for us to come up with a committee report.”

Jalosjos in his opening speech said that with the recent events, President Duterte denounced the abuses committed by members of the PNP.

“The President declared that while he will pursue the war on drugs, he will not tolerate abuses and misconduct by our law enforcers,” he said.

Jalosjos said the statement by the President is very apt and appropriate.

He said there has been an exceptionally numerous drug-related crimes and unsolved killings in the province of Zamboanga del Norte in the past decade.

“The local PNP is seemingly incapable or unwilling to address these concerns,” he said.

He said in the committee’s two previous hearings, resource persons revealed that local PNP officials in Zamboanga del Norte, in conspiracy with or acting under the orders of certain local government officials, are at the center of all drug-related activities in the province.

“In spite of the proceeding conducted by the committee, the killings and the impunity in the province still exist,” Jalosjos said. / MVIP | HOR-PR

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