MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) yesterday blamed the Intramuros Administration (IA) for the continued operation of alleged drug dens inside Intramuros, Manila.
“The recent raid in Intramuros would definitely send a wrong signal that it is no longer safe to walk inside the historic walls and might even scare away tourists,” said PTA general manager Robert Dean Barbers.
The police raided the other day the alleged drug dens and arrested more than a hundred people. Of the 107 arrested, 31 tested negative for drug use and were released.
Five of six people covered by search warrants reportedly tested positive. Three of the five were identified as Zayra Denanila, 23; Romeo Reyes “Alias Kuba (hunchback),” 41; and Marilou Velasquez, 29. They allegedly maintained a drug den in the compound. A sixth suspect, known only as “Nanay Amelia,” remains at large.
Mariano said they are now preparing charges against those who were found positive for drug use and possession.
Saying he was “surprised” by the news, Barbers wondered if the IA had done anything about the presence of the alleged drug dens before.
IA said it knew of the illegal drug activities since the middle of last year.
Mayette Allaga, IA chief of urban planning and community development, said it was at the agency’s request that the Manila Police District raided the suspected shabu kiosks on Legazpi Street in Barangay 654.
“We received complaints … from schools, residents and business establishments so we asked the police to see if the reports were true,” Allaga said in a phone interview.
She said that a few weeks ago, IA Administrator Dominador Ferrer Jr. formally raised the issue with the MPD anti-illegal drugs special operations task force.
Meanwhile, residents of the area accused the raiding policemen of harassment.
“I was begging them to let me get some clothes and milk for my baby but they wouldn’t heed my pleas,” said a 30-year-old woman. She requested anonymity for the sake of her husband who was among those arrested. Another resident, Norma, 45, claimed the money in her closet and her daughter’s cell phone were gone after the raid.
Policemen, meanwhile, accused barangay officials of keeping mum about the alleged shabu dens.
Supt. Roderick Mariano, chief of the Manila Police District’s anti-narcotics unit, said they were investigating if some barangay and police officials were involved as “protectors” of the illegal drugs operations.
He added that he had been told that some barangay officials apparently knew about the existence of the shabu dens.