First La Union town to be declared free of illegal drugs

NAGUILIAN, La Union – Once host to a clandestine meth laboratory, believed to be the largest in Asia, this town has been declared free of illegal drugs after 28 affected villages were cleared of the menace based on the findings of the Municipal Anti-Drug Abuse Council.

The municipality is the first town in the province to be free of the illegal drugs. It has 37 villages, 9 of which have never engaged in the activity.

Mayor Reynaldo Flores, Madac chair, said that the council resolution clearing the affected villages has been confirmed according to a resolution passed and approved by the Sangguniang Bayan.

“All the barangays, families, schools, public and private agencies, and all the establishments in our town have submitted an individual form given by Madac to validate their own ranks with regards to illegal drugs or related activities. The validation was done through the guidelines of the Dangerous Drugs Board,” Flores said.

Flores said the Madac validating team was composed of the representatives from Philippine National Police, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development, local government units, and religious groups.

“The barangays were validated on an individual basis similar to what was done to school teachers and students, workers in government
agencies and private establishments, and all employees of our municipal government,” Flores said.

Flores himself has been cleared by the PNP as “high value target” after an investigation was conducted following President Duterte’s
public announcement that he (Flores) was one of the country’s drug lords.

Flores said they will be inviting officials of the PNP, DILG, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, National Bureau of Investigation, and other concerned law enforcement agencies to validate and confirm the clearance of the affected barangays including those declared drug-free.

Madac recorded 415 surrenderers in the municipality, who are now undergoing self-rehabilitation assisted by the municipal government, while two pushers who surrendered were arrested and criminally charged in court.

One of the illegal drug-free barangays is Upper Bimmotobot, the village where the shabu laboratory was discovered in July 2008. Authorities said at least a trillion worth of shabu was manufactured in the area for it’s more than one year operation.

Former Dagupan City police chief Superintendent Dionicio Borromeo has been convicted after he was found guilty of protecting the operation
of the shabu lab.

Chief Inspector Cirilo Butigan Jr, the town’s police chief, said he already reported to the PNP headquarters in La Union and the PDEA regional office in Camp Diego Silang that the whole town of Naguilian has been cleared of illegal drugs.

Butigan, who spearheaded in validating each all the 28 affected barangays, said he issued certification to barangay officials after a thorough validation on their situation.

He said they will continue to monitor all the barangays in Naguilian to maintain its status as drug-cleared municipality. Jun Elias –