THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said more than 5,000 barangays were cleared from illegal drugs during a 17-month period from July 1, 2016 to the end of 2017.
In a statement, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said a total of 5,324 barangays were declared cleared from illegal drugs from July 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017 by the members of the Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug-Clearing Program.
The Oversight Committee, which is chaired by the PDEA, is composed of provincial representatives of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Health (DOH) and the local government units.
Aquino explained that before declaring a barangay free from illegal drug activities, the committee must convene and validate the non-availability of drug supply in the area and the absence of drug transit activity, clandestine drug laboratory and chemical warehouse, marijuana cultivation site, drug den, drug pusher and user.
“Once cleared, we must ensure that drug-free barangays will maintain their status. All our efforts will go to waste if we allow the resurgence of illegal drug activities in these areas,” he added.
“To accelerate efforts against the proliferation of illegal drugs in drug-affected barangays, the government has adopted an integrated approach in securing the assistance of the local government units in drug-clearing operations,” PDEA chief said, citing Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regulation No. 3 Series of 2017, otherwise known as “Strengthening the Implementation of the Barangay Drug-Clearing Program.”
Meanwhile, the PDEA, despite the existing challenges, said it aims to clear 24,424 barangays from illegal drugs by 2022.
“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,” Aquino said adding that this despite the many challenges the agency face.
“PDEA is faced with many challenges foremost of which is that thousands of barangays have yet to activate its Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC) while almost the same rate of local government units has inactive municipal and local anti-drug abuse councils,” Aquino said.
Aquino stressed that the PDEA also needs the help of the Philippine National Police (PNP) local health offices and the local social welfare offices. (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/03/03/ph-dea-appeals-government-agencies-help-clear-illegal-drugs-24000-barangays/)
“We are happy that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), particularly the Office of Assistant Secretary Rico Judge Echiverri, is in constant cooperation with us and committed that they will help in the activation of all BADACs and ADACs in the whole country,” Aquino said.
There are three basic parameters in determining barangay drug-affectation: slightly affected, moderately affected, and seriously affected.
Barangays are considered slightly affected if there is a reported presence of drug user/s; moderately affected if there is a reported presence of drug pusher/s and/or user/s; and seriously affected if there is a reported presence of any of the following: clandestine drug laboratory, warehouse, marijuana plantation, and drug den/tiangge, drug trafficking or smuggling activities, and drug personalities such as users, pushers, financiers, protectors, cultivators, manufacturers and others.
The PDEA records show that out of the 24,424 drug-affected barangays, 15,290 are classified as slightly affected, 9,089 are moderately affected, while 45 barangays are seriously affected.
The National Capital Region (NCR) has the highest rate of barangay drug-affectation with 95.37 percent, followed by Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula) at 93.47 percent, Region VII (Central Visayas) at 88.78 percent, Region III (Central Luzon) at 84.01 percent and Region XIII (CARAGA) at 82.38 percent. The regions least affected by illegal drugs are Region V (Bicol Region) at 16.59 percent and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) at 0.68 percent.
“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.
For 2018, PDEA aims to clear 7,328 barangays from illegal drugs, or a projected average of 617 barangays per month.