CAR tops number of drug-cleared barangays nationwide

LA TRINIDAD –- The Police Regional Office – Cordillera (PRO-COR) announced that the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) has announced the most number of drug-cleared barangays or villages in the Philippines during the first 10 months in office of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

According to PRO-COR Regional Director Police Chief Superintendent Elmo Francis Sarona, there are 743 out of the 1,176 barangays in CAR which have been cleared of illegal drugs from July 2016 to May 2017 or 63.18 percent accomplishment during the first year in office of President Duterte.

Sarona also presented a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) statistics that showed the accomplishment of the other regions: SOCCSKSARGEN region with 597 cleared barangays out of the 1,195 barangays (49.96 percent); Western Visayas with 838 out of 3,389 barangays (24.73 percent); CALABARZON has 737 out of 4018 (18.34 percent); MIMAROPA has 117 out of 1,459 barangays (8.02 percent); Region 1 has 228 out of 3,265 barangays (6.98 percent);

Central Visayas has 120 out of 2,446 barangays (4.91 percent);

Negros Island Region has 59 out of 1,219 barangays (4.84 percent); Cagayan Valley, 50 out of 2,311 barangays (2.16 percent); Northern Mindanao has 15 out of 2,022 barangays (0.74 percent); CARAGA, 9 out of 1,311 barangays (0.69 percent); Davao region, two out of the 1,162 barangays (0.17 percent); and Zamboanga Peninsula and ARMM without cleared barangays.

In the first 10 months of President Duterte in office from July 2016 to May 2017, the PDEA said there were 3,677 drug-cleared barangays in the country.

The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) defines drug-cleared barangays as those subjected to drug-clearing operations and declared free from any illegal drug activities pursuant to the parameters.

Based on DDB’s regulation, the parameters include non-availability of drug supply; absence of drug transit or transshipment, clandestine drug laboratory and chemical warehouse, marijuana cultivation site, drug den, dive or resort, drug pusher, drug user or drug dependent, protector or coddler and financier; there is an active involvement of barangay officials in anti-drug activities; active involvement of SK to help maintain the drug-liberated status of the barangay; existence of drug awareness, preventive education and information, and other related programs and existence of voluntary and compulsory drug treatment and rehabilitation processing desk.

Sarona said Cordillera region, composed of the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province including the cities of Tabuk and Baguio, recorded a total of 20,617 drug surrenderers from the start of the term of President Duterte to the present.

There were also 537 persons arrested in different anti-illegal drugs operations, involved in the selling, transport and use of illegal drugs from the start of the President’s term to the present at the height of the implementation of the Operation Plans (OPLANs) “Double Barrel”, “Double Barrel Alpha” and “Double Barrel Reloaded”.

Sarona said that with the good accomplishment in the anti-illegal drugs campaign, the police have noted a decrease in crime volume.

The PRO-COR reported that there is a 34-percent decrease in crime volume from January to May 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. Index crimes which include rape, theft, robbery, physical injuries decreased by 58.22 percent while non-index crimes which include vehicular traffic accident, illegal possession of firearms, and violence against women and children decreased by 21.88 percent.

President Duterte repeatedly says that due to illegal drug use, an addict gets involved in killings and rape cases owing to the ill effects to the mind of the person and they commit robbery and other crimes to be able to sustain the money required to buy illegal drugs.

Sarona also said that around with the over 400 operations jointly conducted by the police and the PDEA, a total of Php7.7 billion worth of illegal drugs were confiscated during the first year of President Duterte, of which, Php5.8 billion were marijuana.

Under Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, whoever is caught possessing and selling illegal drugs is punishable by monetary penalty and imprisonment aside from disqualification to hold public office, for those arrested government workers and those intending to join the government work force.

Police Senior Superintendent Benjamin Sembrano, chief of the Regional Police Community Relations Division, said Cordillera is giving importance to the conduct of information education campaigns (IEC) for a more massive dissemination of the ill effects of illegal drugs.

He said they hold lectures, symposium, dialogues, media exposures, internet presence and other available means to disseminate the information. Hand-outs are also distributed to all sectors.

He mentioned of PCSupt. Sarona’s initiative to heighten the information campaign by issuing an order compelling all police stations in the Cordillera to conduct a minimum of one symposium a week and to include the anti-drugs information in all talks and activities which the police gets involved in.

Sembrano said the different stakeholders in the different provinces and cities in the region are helping each other in aiding the surrenderers complete their drug rehabilitation program. Livelihood activities are also being initiated by the joint multi-sector efforts with the aim of making those who have been rehabilitated veer away from using illegal drugs and from the possibility of being swayed to return after rehabilitation.

He added that there is a total of 23 rehabilitation and wellness centers in the region operated jointly or separately by the government and private sectors.

He mentioned of the “Padyak” fund raising cycling event of the PRO-COR where the money raised was donated to five rehabilitation and wellness centers to help defray the expenses needed to continue the rehabilitation of the drug surrenderers. Nestor Castañeda Jr./