‘Biggest’ drug haul shrinks in final PNP inventory

‘Biggest’ drug haul shrinks in final PNP inventory

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 05:46 AM April 20, 2024

‘Biggest’ drug haul shrinks in final PNP inventory

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos —INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The P13.3-billion drug haul reported on Monday—trumpeted then as the biggest yet in the government’s antinarcotics campaign—decreased to P9.68 billion after the final inventory done by the Philippine National Police on Wednesday.

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos maintained there was “complete transparency” when the volume of the confiscated crystal meth, or “shabu,” was rechecked.


READ: Explainer: How the P9.68 billion shabu haul in Batangas was counted


From the reported weight of “about 2 tons” that was announced on April 15, the drugs were estimated at 1.8 tons the next day and, finally, at 1.4 tons on April 17.

‘Still ongoing’

A team led by Capt. Luis de Luna Jr., police chief of Alitagtag, Batangas province, intercepted the drugs that were transported by a Foton passenger van passing a checkpoint in that town on Monday.

Citing the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Lt. Col. Chitadel Gaoiran, spokesperson for the PNP’s Calabarzon office, said the contraband was valued at P13.3 billion. But he added that “It is only an estimate. The inventory is still ongoing.”

READ: Marcos on largest shabu bust ever: No bullet fired, not one person dead

Abalos was at the scene that day, announcing what he described as the biggest drug haul yet by the government.

By Tuesday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself stopped by Alitagtag, this time citing the latest police data that the drugs weighed 1.8 tons but were still valued at P13.3 billion.


But by Wednesday, the biggest drug haul became the second biggest, after earlier eclipsing the P11 billion worth of shabu seized in Infanta town, Quezon province, in March 2022.

Media’s role

Abalos, who was joined by other officials, explained that the initial P13.3 billion reported by PDEA was “a face-value estimation.”

He also noted that the inventory was conducted in front of other authorities as well as civilian witnesses and recorded on video.

“It’s on video, everything was on video. Witnesses were there. It is open to the media for scrutiny from day one,” he said, adding that the PNP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government would ensure that the drugs would be destroyed, as required by law.

Assistant Secretary Renato Gumban, PDEA deputy director for operations, said of the drugs’ reduced value after their final inventory: “We were pressured by the requests for estimates. We do not release estimates unless pressed by the press.”

Batangas provincial prosecutor Lourdes Zapanta also blamed the media for the confusion.

“Can I answer that?” she said when a reporter asked if it is within the mandate of PDEA or the police to give estimates while their inventory was still ongoing.

“I think they are not obliged, but it is you who forced them to give an estimate. It was you who asked them, of course they were forced [to give an estimate]. If you had not asked, they would not have released any figures, right?” Zapanta said.

Abalos still acknowledged the media’s role to “always ask questions.”

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“That’s why on our end, we try to be transparent here,” he said.

TAGS: biggest drug haul in PH, PNP‎

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