ZAMBOANGA CITY: Anti-narcotics agents, backed by soldiers, swooped down on a marijuana plantation owned by an Abu Sayyaf supporter in Kalingalan Caluang town in Sulu, the military said on Saturday.
It said members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Marine Battalion Landing Team 7 raided on Friday the 2,100-square meter illegal plantation – owned by a man identified only as Sahabi – in the village of Masjid Punjungan.
Soldiers and anti-narcotics agents, in collaboration with village leaders, uprooted some 22,000 fully grown marijuana plants and burned them.
Lt. Col. Oliver Baylon, Marine battalion commander, said the destroyed marijuana was well over P5 million in street value.
Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, commander of the 11th Infantry Division and anti-terror Joint Task Force Sulu, said Sahabi was a known supporter of the pro-IS group Abu Sayyaf and may be using funds from the illegal marijuana trade to finance the violent campaign of the terrorist group.
“Sahabi is a supporter of the Abu Sayyaf group. The marijuana plantation could be another source of fund of the Abu Sayyaf and their supporters,” Vinluan said.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said troops would continue supporting law enforcement operations of the PDEA in an effort to eradicate the illegal trade.
“Team WestMinCom will continue to support other agencies in the conduct of law enforcement operations to prevent the proliferation of illegal drugs in our operational area,” he said.
Officials did not report any arrest and it was unknown whether villagers were aware of the existence of the marijuana plantation in the area.