PNP: Drugs not sold at Closeup event

DRUG PARAPHERNALIA. NBI probers show tools used in the illegal drug trade. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

DRUG PARAPHERNALIA. NBI probers show tools used in the illegal drug trade.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Despite reports and claims made by some of the partygoers, the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday, June 6, insisted there was no drug dealing during the Closeup Forever Summer event that left at least 5 dead.

“We did not receive any report or information that there was a selling of drugs inside the area,” said Chief Police Senior Superintendent Manuel Lukban, intelligence chief of the PNP National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) during the congressional hearing on the party that was organized by the toothpaste brand.

The probe was jointly organized by the committees on youth and sports development, Metro Manila development and dangerous drugs. 

Lukban stressed: “We can prove that those victims who took advantage of the event took drugs outside of the event. And [that] there was no reported selling of drugs inside the event.”

The May 21 party turned into a tragedy when 5 of the partygoers died of drug use.   (READ: Closeup concert victim tests positive for synthetic drugs)

Security personnel assigned to the event later told investigators they did see concert-goers with ecstasy pills. Green Amore, a dangerous drug that was suspected to have caused the death of the victims, is a known mix of ecstasy and shabu. (READ: Music, drugs, and alcohol: Do young Filipinos party to get high?)

But Lukban said the drugs must have been sold before the party – via social media.

“The dealing of shabu versus the dealing of ecstasy is very different. Ecstasy proliferates through social media, through Facebook,” he said.

Focus: Robbery, fights

Organizers of the music festival, who have mounted the same event for 4 consecutive years, admitted they did not give much attention to the possibility of drug dealing during the party.

Michelle Quintana of Activations Advertising, the firm that handled security for the event, said that they considered the entry of drugs but this was not their primary concern.

“When you talk about this particular events, we are more concerned about crowd control, we are more concerned about unruly behavior, we are more concerned about the evacuation pace in cases of earthquake stampede and also fire,” Quintana told lawmakers during the hearing.

Lukban said the police also focused on trying to prevent robbery or fights.

According to Quintana, their security plan was geared up for 15,000 attendees even though only 12,312 actually showed up.

But Alay Buhay party list Representative Wes Gatchalian criticized organizers for assigning “unqualified” security personnel to secure the event.

At least 100 policemen manned the periphery of the concert grounds, while organizers assigned 235 bouncers in charge of internal security.

Quintana said bouncers tapped for this gathering are trained. She admitted that while they secured the gates, the guards may not have spotted the entry of new designer drugs believed to have been sold during the concert. –

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.