THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is aiming to clear the remaining 18,712 drug-affected barangays by year 2022, PDEA chair Director General Aaron N. Aquino said yesterday.
Aquino said that these barangays represent 44.5 percent out of 42,045 barangays in the country that are still plagued by the drug menace. Out of the 18,712 drug-affected barangays, 7,817 are classified as slightly affected, 10,616 moderately, and279 barangays seriously.
“PDEA intends to sustain the pace of clearing an average of 6,200 drug-affected barangays every year or 520 barangays every month, for the next three years. The mission of ridding the country’s drug problem by 2022 would be a reality,” the retired police general said.
According to the official, there are three basic parameters in determining barangay drug-affectation: slightly affected, moderately affected, and seriously affected. He said that 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, drug den/tiangge, drug trafficking or smuggling activities, and drug personalities such as users, pushers, financiers, protectors, cultivators, manufacturers and others.
Aquino said that the National Capital Region (NCR) has the highest rate of barangay drug-affectation with 72.7 percent, followed by Region VII in Central Visayas with 72.4 percent; Region 5 in Bicol with 68.9 percent; Region 3 in Central Luzon with 63.6 percent; and Region IV-A in Calabarzon with 55.7 percent.
The regions least affected by illegal drugs are Cordillera Administrative Region with 7.2 percent; Region 8 in Eastern Visayas with 17.5 percent; and Region 13 in Caraga with 17.7 percent.
14,922 BARANGAYS CLEARED DRUGS
Aquino said that from July 1, 2016 to last September 30, a total of 14,922 barangays have already been declared cleared of illegal drugs.
“These barangays have reached drug-cleared status after issuance of a certification by members of the Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug-Clearing Program,” the official said.
The Oversight Committee, which is chaired by PDEA, is composed of provincial representatives of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Philippine National Police, Department of Health and local government units.
Before declaring that a barangay is free from illegal drugs, 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 monitor newly-declared drug-free barangays to ensure that they will maintain their status. All our efforts will go to waste if we allow the resurgence of illegal drug activities in these areas,” Aquino said.
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 pursuant to Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 3 Series of 2017, otherwise known as “Strengthening the Implementation of the Barangay Drug-Clearing Program”, which includes the activation of Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADACs) in the communities.
As the lead agency against illegal drugs, PDEA has adopted a three-pronged strategy in the national anti-drug campaign: Supply Reduction, Demand Reduction, and Harm Reduction.
Aquino said that apart from the traditional drug supply and drug demand reduction strategy of the government, PDEA integrated into the campaign a harm-reduction approach to soften the social and economic impact of the drug problem by implementing programs that reduce harms associated with illegal drugs.
To prevent or end drug dependency, PDEA is implementing harm-reduction efforts such as: “Balay Silangan”, a community-based reformation program for surrendering drug offenders; Project: “Sagip Batang Solvent”, to rescue street children, particularly those hooked on solvent-sniffing; drug test of public transport drivers nationwide, to ensure road safety; and “Drug-Free Workplace Program”, to promote a working environment free from the influence of dangerous drugs in business establishments.