COTABATO CITY -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao seized around P325,000 worth of suspected shabu and arrested three men believed to be drug pushers in a buy-bust operation in Barangay Datu Balabaran.
The suspects were identified as Prince Mohammad Mama, 27, who is included in the target list of PDEA and considered as a high value target; Samel Omar, 34; and Dong Mamalinta, 34; all residents of the area.
The operatives were able to recover from their possession 50 grams of white crystalline substance believed to be illegal drugs, according to PDEA.
PDEA-ARMM Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz said the target is known for selling drugs in the area.
"Talagang nasa target list natin kasi lantaran na pagbebenta sa kanilang lugar and involved din sa sindikato," Ruiz said.
PDEA operatives were also disappointed that some local barangay officials refused to stand as witnesses in the inventory of the pieces of evidence taken after the operation.
Ruiz said they tried to contact them after the operation to appear as witnesses during the inventory, like in any normal operation.
"Unfortunately nag-decline sila. Takot siguro sila. But under the law hindi sila pwedeng mag decline," Ruiz stressed.
ABS-CBN tried to get the statement of the barangay officials but its barangay chairperson refused to give any comments for personal reasons.
Despite of the lack of witnesses, PDEA will still file the appropriate charges against the arrested suspects, but could make the case stronger in court if there were any representatives from the barangay who could bear as witness.
The suspects will be charged with violation of Section 5 in Republic Act 9165 which is a non-bailable offense.