A man was arrested on Saturday for the alleged sale of illegal narcotics to attendees of the Philippines’ CloseUp Summer Festival earlier this month where five people died as a result of overdoses, officials said. Joshua Habalo was arrested during a sting operation after selling an undercover agent five ecstasy pills at a Manila hotel event that he had organized. He was pointed out by an informant as one of 10 people who sold illegal drugs at the festival.

Autopsies of three of the CloseUp victims confirmed they had died of heart attacks, and toxicologists have begun testing the deceased for traces of illicit substances, including MDMA.

Joel Tuvera, chief of the National Bureau of Investigation’s antinarcotics division, said that “Taking these pills together with alcohol… may lead to a heart attack.” Currently, search efforts are being made to locate the other nine alleged dealers.

Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte has pledged to target drug-related crimes in the country when he takes office. He described the festival deaths as “unacceptable” in a statement, blaming them on the drugs that were sold.

“It was a deadly mix intended to kill people. When you mix downers with uppers and put it in the brain of a human being that is what happens.” – Duterte

Duterte has said he will use police sharpshooters to kill dealers on site if they attempt to resist arrest. He has also urged congress to pass a law to restore the death penalty.



Source: Gulf Times | Image: Carla Barretto