TACLOBAN CITY – The crackdown against illegal drugs has already killed 10 drug personalities in the region in the past two weeks, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported on Thursday (July 14). PNP acting regional director Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar said four of these drug personalities were killed in a shootout while six others were gunned down by unidentified suspects. “Although those who were killed are all confirmed drug personalities based on our records, we have to ask our provincial and city directors to investigate the killing done by unidentified gunmen,” Beltejar said. Of the 10 drug pushers and users slain from July 1 to July 13, four were from Ormoc City, three from Samar province, and one each from Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and Southern Leyte. Some of those killed were either members of the police or the Army.
Among them were Ariel Pitong Unay, an ex-Army who resisted arrest in Catarman, Northern Samar and Antonio Dador, a former police, who engaged in a shootout with former colleagues in Sogod, Southern Leyte. As of July 13, the Eastern Visayas police has already arrested 68 known drug pushers and users – 17 in Leyte; Southern Leyte, 9; Biliran, 5; Samar, 13; Eastern Samar, 4; Northern Samar, 2; Ormoc City, 4; and Tacloban City, 14. In the region more than 7,000 drug pushers and users have surrendered before the authorities, Beltejar said. “We have been calling drug personalities to surrender. If they won’t, we will subject them to police operations,” he added.
The PNP regional office is currently updating the list of high value targets in the region including former police officers, ex-Army and incumbent local government officials.
Initially, the police have identified 3,080 drug personalities in the region for coverage of Operation Tokhang (toktok-hangyo). Tokhang is a combination of Visayan word which means to approach and persuade. Under the said operation, police knocked on doors of known drug traders and dependents, asking them to stop the illicit practice.