PDEA mulls livelihood assistance for marijuana planters

CAMP DANGWA, Benguet — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Cordillera mulls giving livelihood assistance to marijuana growers as solution to its unabated cultivation in the region, an official said Tuesday.

PDEA-Cordillera Regional Director Edgar Apalla said they will coordinate with the concerned local government units (LGUs) to prepare a proposal regarding an alternative livelihood program for areas known to have marijuana plantations.

He said these proposals will be submitted to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) for consideration and possible funding.

Apalla said giving the residents of far-flung communities a livelihood might be able to address their financial problems and prevent them from pursuing the illegal activity of cultivating marijuana.

Apalla’s statement came as joint operatives of PDEA-CAR and the police in Benguet and Region 1 (Ilocos Region) destroyed about 12,800 fully-grown marijuana plants worth PHP2.5 million last Friday (January 18).

Government agents discovered the four marijuana plantation sites in Barangay Tacadang, Kibungan which is located in the tri-boundary with La Union and Ilocos Sur.

Kibungan had been cleared of illegal drugs in 2017 after several years of being tagged as a source of high-grade marijuana in the country as indicated by the numerous eradication operations in different villages and sub-villages of the town.

However, during the joint Regional Development Council (RDC) and Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in December 2018, Apalla reported that they have monitored a resurgence of illegal drug-related activities in Kibungan.

He said 75 of the 1,176 barangays in the region are listed as drug-affected.

Apalla said the regional Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug Clearing Program will issue a show cause order to the local governments and villages concerned for them to explain and act on the resurgence of illegal drug activities within 30 days.

Chief Supt. Rolando Nana, Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCOR) director, said authorities are conducting thorough investigation to identify and locate marijuana cultivators in these areas.

Meanwhile, Nana reported that operatives of Mountain Province Provincial Police Office also destroyed 110 fully-grown marijuana plants worth PHP22,000 in Barangay Sadsadan, Bauko.

The marijuana plants were burned in the plantation site while some of it were brought to the police station for evidence.  Pamela Mariz Geminiano and Liza Agoot / PNA – northboundasia.com