Tribe turns over P4.5 million worth of marijuana– Gov. Calingasan

MALAYBALAY CITY – (Bukidnon News/29 October) Bukidnon Gov. Alex
Calingasan announced that leaders of the Umajamnen tribe based in the
hinterlands between Bukidnon’s Cabanglasan and Agusan del Sur’s Loreto
towns turned over about P4.5 million worth of marketable marijuana
plants in formal rites on October 27.

Calingasan told reporters Thursday the tribe’s supreme datu, whom he
identified as Apu Manggarin, led 29 other tribal leaders in turning
over the initial harvest of illegal drugs, which according to
estimates by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) could reach
up to P15-20 million in street sales.

The full-grown plants were handed to authorities at the Cabanglasan
municipal gymnasium with the tribal leaders in formal turn over
attended by Calingasan and other provincial officials, Cabanglasan
mayor Rogelio Castillanes and other town officials, and the PDEA
Bukidnon team.  A ceremonial burning of the plants was also held.

Calingasan quoted tribal leaders as saying the plants turned over are
only proof for their intention to end their reported involvement in
planting marijuana.

The PDEA provincial team leader, who asked not to be identified for
security reasons, said the tribe allegedly owns about 40 to 50
hectares of plantations. He said they have organized the Oplan
Salirongan to conduct search and destroy operations of the said
plantations identified to be in Sitio Salirongan, Cananga-an,
Cabanglasan.

But Bukidnon News sources who are in contact with the indigenous
peoples in Cananga-an said the group is from across the Pantaron
range, which is already in Agusan del Sur. The sources said the
plantations are in Agusan del Sur.

Calingasan said the tribal leaders blamed a ‘dumagat,’ a migrant for
their involvement in planting marijuana. He said in their poverty and
ignorance, they were dragged into the drug trade. The financier
eventually conned the tribe, Calingasan added. PDEA officials did not
identify the financier of the plantations.

The PDEA official said the financier bought the plants from the Lumads
at P200 to P400 per sack. Each sack contains about 15 kilos of
marijuana plants, he added. Each kilo of ready to use marijuana sells
at P4,000 in the market.

The PDEA provincial team leader, who asked not to be identified, said
the turn over and the eventual destruction of the plantations in about
40 to 50 hectares is major blow to the multi-million marijuana drug
trade in Mindanao.

Cananga-an, where the authorities uncovered about two hectares of
marijuana plantations in 2010, made Cabanglasan one of the three
“marijuana” hotspots in Mindanao, the PDEA team leader said. The other
two, Talakag and San Fernando towns, are both from Bukidnon.

Calingasan said the provincial government will reward the tribe with
projects. He said starting January 2012, the provincial government
will send teachers for the pre-school and elementary pupils in the
villages. The PDEA official also vowed livelihood support from the
Dangerous Drugs Board.

He recognized that the municipal government of Cabanglasan took the
initiative to convince the tribe.
Jeoffrey Sayson, provincial legal officer, said the incident shows
people who were already in “very lucrative” business now returning to
the folds of law with a less lucrative and more honorable life.

Calingasan has quoted tribal leaders including a youth representative
as saying money is less important as they intend to secure their
future.

He added that they preferred roads, bridges, and schools. (Walter I.
Balane/Bukidnon News)

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