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19.8K barangays now drug-cleared: PDEA

MORE than 19,000 barangays across the country have already been cleared of illegal drugs since the start of the Duterte administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs in 2016, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported on Friday.

Based on a PDEA infographic, at least 19,876 out of the 42,042 barangays (villages) in the country have been declared drug-cleared as of July 31.

These barangays have reached drug-cleared status after the issuance of a certification by members of the Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug-Clearing Program.

The agency assured that the health and safety of its agents are prioritized in anti-drug operations.

Meanwhile, a total of 14,491 barangays have yet to be cleared of illegal drugs.

PDEA Director General Wilkins VIllanueva earlier said the agency aims to declare as cleared the remaining drug-affected barangays in the country by June 2022.

“There are 702 days to go before the deadline on ending the country’s drug problem as committed by the President to the Filipino people. PDEA’s self-imposed countdown creates a higher sense of urgency, no matter how difficult the challenge is,” Villanueva said in an earlier statement.

He added that PDEA, as the lead agency against illegal drugs, adopted a three-pronged strategy in the national anti-drug campaign which focuses on reducing its supply, demand, and harmful effects.

The agency has created a Barangay Drug Clearing Program Working Group for Monitoring and Validation to fast-track drug-clearing operations in the communities and prevents the proliferation of illegal drugs in the barangays.

The Barangay Drug Clearing Program (BDCP) encompasses a holistic and whole-of-nation approach in addressing the drug problem by enlisting the participation of local government units (LGUs), government agencies, and various stakeholders of the national anti-drug campaign.

Meanwhile, a total of 9,706 high-value targets (HVTs) were arrested from July 1, 2016 to July. 31, 2020.

The figure included 3,776 HVTs arrested from high impact operations, 2,835 target-listed suspects, 741 drug group leaders/members, 401 government employees, 336 elected officials, 279 foreigners, 222 included on wanted lists, 96 uniformed personnel, 62 armed group members, and 11 prominent personalities.

Authorities also arrested 251,889 individuals involved in illegal drugs during the period.

As of July 2020, the consolidated report showed that 5,819 drug suspects have died during 173,348 anti-illegal drug operations.

From July 2016 to July 2020, authorities also rescued 3,254 minors involved in illegal drug activities. This includes 1,817 pushers; 868 possessors; 385 users; 161 drug den visitors; 11 drug den employees, eight drug den maintainers, two cultivators, one runner, and clan lab employee/laborer.

Authorities also dismantled a total of 581 drug dens and 16 clandestine shabu laboratories and seized PHP52.77 billion worth of illegal drugs, which includes PHP43.20 billion worth of shabu.

On August 21, PDEA led the biggest destruction of confiscated illegal drugs worth PHP13 billion in Trece Martires City, Cavite.

Villanueva said the supply of illegal drugs in the Philippines is primarily coming from abroad as there are no longer huge drug laboratories in the country.

– Philippine News Agency