MANILA — Five barangays (villages) in the province of Samar have been declared by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as drug-free.
PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said these are barangays Casandig, Concepcion, Hinugacan, Natimonan and Pologon in Gandara town.
Aquino said the five barangays were identified as drug-affected after drug clearing operations were conducted in the five barangays by PDEA operatives and members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
After a thorough and careful validation of the Oversight Committee and satisfying all the parameters set up by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regulation No. 3 Series of 2017, or Strengthening the Barangay Drug Clearing Program, the five barangays were declared drug-cleared on March 15, 2018.
The parameters based on Section 8 of the Board Regulation are as follows:
1. Non-availability of drug supply;
2. Absence of drug transit/transshipment activity;
3. Absence of clandestine drug laboratory;
4. Absence of clandestine drug warehouse;
5. Absence of marijuana cultivation site;
6. Absence of drug den, dive or resort;
7. Absence of drug pusher;
8. Absence of drug user/dependent;
9. Absence of protector/coddler and financier;
10. Active involvement of barangay officials in anti-drug activities;
11. Active involvement of SK to help maintain the drug-liberated status of the barangay;
12. Existence of drug awareness, preventive education and information, and other related programs; and
13. Existence of voluntary and compulsory drug treatment and rehabilitation processing desk.
Region 8 has a total of 4,390 barangays, 42.15 percent of which, or 1,846 were identified as drug-affected.
A barangay is declared drug-affected if there is a presence of either drug users, drug pushers, drug dens and/or shabu laboratories.
The Municipal Oversight Committee headed by Director Edgar T. Jubay, Regional Director of PDEA Regional Office VIII, with representatives from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Health (DOH) and Local Government Unit (LGU) as members.
On June 2, 2017, Batanes, the northernmost province in Region II was declared as the first province to be drug-free.
Earlier, PDEA has reported that 5,324 out of 42,036 or 12.6 percent of barangays in the country have been cleared of drugs in line with the government’s ongoing anti-narcotics campaign.
Aquino said the report covers the period July 2016 to December 2017.
He added that for 2018, the agency targets to clear 7,328 barangays from illegal drugs, or a projected average of 617 barangays per month.
“PDEA has committed itself to clear the remaining 24,424 drug-affected barangays nationwide by 2022. These barangays represent 58.10 percent out of 42,036 barangays in the country that are still plagued by the drug menace,” he said.
“PDEA is setting the bar high. We intend to clear an average of 6,000 drug-affected barangays every year for the next four years. If we can sustain the pace, we can rid the country’s drug problem by 2022 and maintain the drug-free status,” Aquino said.
Of the 24,424 drug-affected barangays, 15,290 are classified as slightly affected, 9,089 are moderately affected, while 45 are seriously affected.
He appealed to other government agencies to help them in clearing the 24,424 barangays from illegal drugs by 2022.
Aquino said among the concerns raised were the inactive BADAC; inactive BADAC Auxiliary Teams (BAT); refusal of DOH officials to sign clearances due to unavailability of drug reformation centers; and lack of local government unit (LGU) support.
“PDEA cannot do it alone. We need these agencies to step-up,” Aquino said. (PNA)
By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan