PNP cites Naga City's high crime rate to back Duterte's 'hotbed of shabu' tag

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 22) — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday backed President Rodrigo Duterte's claim that Naga City is a "hotbed" of shabu - using data on crime volume.

"Alam naman natin (We all know that) those that are perpetrating these crimes against properties are really those also engaged in drug trade, illegal drugs," PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said in a press briefing Wednesday.

He said Naga City is the fifth city outside Metro Manila with the highest crime rate – a claim that was corrected by the PNP Public Information Office Acting Chief Benigno Durana two days later.

"Based on the latest PNP data, among the major cities of the country outside of Metro Manila, Naga City is ranked No.6 in the total crime volume during the period from January to July 2018," Durana said in a statement Friday, taking full responsibility for the mistake.

He added Naga City ranked second in the number of crimes against persons and properties, and had the highest average monthly crime rate during the same period, followed by Mandaue City, Iloilo City, Santiago City and Cebu City.

Albayalde said the PNP will release data on the volume of illegal drugs seized per city to prove the President's claim Naga City is also on top of the list.

When asked if it is right to call Naga City a hotbed or breeding ground of shabu, Albayalde said it's all up to the President. "Well probably it's the choice [of the] President kung talagang he (if he really) considers it that."

In an earlier interview with CNN Philippines' The Source, however, Albayalde admitted the PNP has no data pointing to Naga City as a shabu hot bed.

"When you say of hot bed parang source kasi talaga yan e. I really don't know where the President got his information on that," Albayalde said.

He did not dispute the President's statement.

"Meron talaga… Not necessarily siya ang pinakahot na ano, pero meron talaga," he said.

Duterte on August 14 said shabu has been proliferating in Vice President Leni Robredo's hometown in Naga, as he again cast doubts on her competence to lead the country.

Robredo has since cried foul over the President's statement and called on him to spare Naga City from politicking. She said the city government will issue a "resolution of indignation" over the President's accusation.

Officials earlier said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency is validating reports of illegal drug operations in the city. When asked why Duterte came up with a conclusion already, Interior Officer-In-Charge Eduardo Año said the President "has his own sources."

Albayalde said the President could have based his conclusion on reports of shabu laboratories previously discovered "not necessarily in Naga City" but in other areas in the the Bicol region.

In a speech Tuesday night, Duterte said there is no more shabu laboratory operating in the country, but imported drugs have been slipping into the country's ports. He said these are being supplied by the Taiwan-based Bamboo Triad, one of the world's most powerful drug syndicates. 

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos contributed to this report.