PDEA validating drug-cleared LGUs in Cordillera

THE MANSION, Baguio City — To be able to sustain the status of municipalities and provinces in the Cordillera as drug-cleared areas, the Oversight Committee is continuously monitoring and validating the places in the region.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Cordillera Regional Director Edgar Apalla on the sidelines of the joint Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council- Regional Development Council (RPOC-RDC) meeting today, said they do the validation of the barangays, municipalities and provinces which were earlier declared drug-free by the local government units and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

He said aside from validation, they are also conducting information education campaigns (IEC) to be able to inform local government units of the mandates of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code, Republic Act 9165 or the Anti-Illegal Drug Law of 2002 and other declarations.

He pointed out that the Barangay, Municipal and Provincial Anti-drug Abuse Councils (ADACs) have functions to ensure that their respective jurisdictions are drug-free.

During the RPOC-RDC meeting, Atty. Ernesto Marzo, PDEA-CAR Administrative Officer, told members present that the government’s drug clearing program is a mandate under a Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) memorandum circular, which includes the revitalization of the BADAC.

He clarified that declaration of drug-cleared or drug-free barangays is a mandate of the Oversight Committee which chairman is the PDEA regional director and the DILG regional director as vice chairman. The members include the PNP, Department of Health and the LGU concerned.

Among the duties of the committee are to declare a barangay as drug-free, conduct regular monitoring of the anti-drug initiatives of all local government units, conduct quarterly validation on the status of all drug-cleared barangays to ensure that the same is still drug free and to direct the BADAC to conduct house visit to the identified drug personality for consideration of the person’s surrender and intervention.

The committee is authorized to conduct drug test on drug personalities and surrenderers undergoing treatment, counseling, after-care and rehabilitation and is authorized to revoke all drug-free certification through official notice in case a barangay fails to maintain all requirements of a drug-free place.

He pointed out that it is only the oversight committee that is authorized to declare a place as drug-unaffected and drug-clear.

A drug unaffected place is one where there are no drug personalities, no drug dens.

A drug-affected, has three categories – serious, moderate and slight. A seriously affected place has the presence of clandestine drug laboratory, warehouse, marijuana plantation and drug den or “tiangge” as well as the presence of drug trafficking or smuggling activity and personality.

A moderately affected place has the presence of drug pushers and or users while a slightly affected one has a reported presence of drug users.

When asked why after a declaration that a place is drug-cleared, reports of incidents as well as arrests are still happening, the PDEA explained that such is the reason for the re-validation, which will determine the sustainability of the declared status.

Upon validation by the oversight committee and it was found that there is a resumption of illegal drug activities, the barangay concerned is given 30 days to take appropriate action, by doing house visitation and subjecting the persons to rehabilitation and intervention.

Marzo pointed out that LGUS that are not performing their functions to rid their area of the illegal drugs can be criminally or administratively penalized under the local government code and the anti-illegal drug law of 2002.

The issue of declaring a place as drug cleared was among the top issues discussed during the RPOC meeting, being among the priorities of the national government under the leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. LTA/PNA-northboundasia.com