MANILA, Philippines?The grandson of a former president, an actress-singer and a male multimedia personality are some of the prominent personalities on the watch list of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for cocaine and Ecstasy abuse and dependency.
In an exclusive interview, Maj. Valentino R. Lopez, chief of the PDEA Complaint and Reaction Unit (CRU), revealed the names on the watch list that also include: bar owners, a former councilor of Makati City, a male segment host of a daily morning show, a son of a rich clan in an exclusive subdivision in Makati and a son of a Metro Manila mayor.
Lopez said they received ?positive information? that the names on the list were Ecstasy and cocaine users.
If these personalities are found in possession of illegal drugs, they will be arrested, he warned.
Lopez said PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago had ordered his men to intensify the campaign against drug abuse and to focus on street pushing not only in slum areas but also in posh subdivisions and high-end bars suspected of being havens for Ecstasy and cocaine abuse.
The order came after the arrest of Richard Sevilla Calayag, dubbed by PDEA agents as the ?Ecstasy King.?
Lopez said, ?Drug abuse makes no distinctions. The rich and the poor get victimized. It?s a very real social problem and all sectors must be watched, rich or poor. We raid big establishments as well as squatter areas.?
The PDEA-CRU caught Calayag last Thursday at a coffee shop on Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City when he delivered 50 Ecstasy tablets worth P75,000 to a PDEA undercover agent.
Based on intelligence information, PDEA agents learned that Calayag was a known distributor of Ecstasy and cocaine used in parties in different nightspots frequented by known and affluent personalities.
Lopez identified two of the nightspots?one in the Fort Bonifacio Global City area in Taguig City and another on Timog Avenue, Quezon City.
In a separate interview, PDEA Director General Santiago clarified that the establishments were not on the watch list, only the personalities.
?We do not watch establishments,? he said. ?We watch individuals and personalities. Based on our investigation, the people suspected of using cocaine and Ecstasy frequent these high-end nightspots.?
Cheap drugs in slums
Santiago said the intensity and frequency of illegal drug use were the same for the rich and the poor.
?In the slums, cheap drugs like marijuana, ?shabu? [methamphetamine hydrochloride] and even cough syrups are used,? he said. ?At the high-end night spots, they use cocaine and Ecstasy.?
Lopez said that when interrogated, Calayag revealed that the source of his Ecstasy was a Chinese national, allegedly a member of the Chinese Triad who was responsible for importing Ecstasy to the Philippines.
Lopez said Calayag would be charged with violation of Section 5 (Sale of Illegal Drugs) of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
According to information from the PDEA, the offense is non-bailable and carries a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million.
The arrest of Calayag came after PDEA agents raided a house in Bagong Silangan Village, Quezon City, on Aug. 13. They arrested 11 drug pushers and users and confiscated 50 grams of shabu with a street value of P300,000. With editing by INQUIRER.net