114 Bukidnon barangays on PDEA watch list

MALAYBALAY CITY  (MinaNdews/06 August) — The drug menace is bothering 114 of Bukidnon’s 464 barangays with about 99 villages and two towns  “moderately affected,” and two other towns as “seriously affected,” according to an official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

“This means one in every four barangays in the province are in the PDEA watch list,” Randy Pulmano, PDEA Bukidnon team leader told members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on Wednesday.

Pulmano also told said they are verifying a suspected drug laboratory in Kalilangan town, but Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr  but he wants it verified soonest because hew an the rcher                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       since he wants it taken from their list if not confirmed.

Pulmano said Bukidnon has 12 “slightly affected barangays” or those areas where there are not only users but also the presence of a drug trader; 99 are “moderately affected” or where there are both users and several pushers; and about three are classified  “seriously affected,
or those ”where there is a drug den or clandestine places where prohibited drugs are sold and consumed.”

The data shows there are more barangays that have both users and pushers.

Bukidnon’s 114 barangays comprise about 28 percent of the total number of barangays in the PDEA drug list of 412. Bukidnon has the highest number of “moderately affected barangays.”

Pulmano did not identify all barangays but cited that in Malaybalay among the affected barangays considered as “moderately affected” for marijuana and shabu are barangays Casisang, Midlamin, and Brgy. 1. He also named Brgy. 9 in Malaybalay City as a “seriously affected barangay”.

In Valencia City, he named barangays Bagonta-as, Batangan, Guinuyoran, Laligan, Lumbo, and Lurugan as moderately affected barangays. He named barangays Sinayawan, Sugod, and Vintar as moderately affected for marijuana. He also named Valencia’s Poblacion barangay as a “seriously affected barangay.”

Pulmano said that even as marijuana and shabu are a menace in Bukidnon’s two cities, it is more rampant in Valencia City than in Malaybalay City.

But he said topping the watch list are the towns of San Fernando and Cabanglasan, which host the biggest plantations of marijuana in Northern Mindanao.

Also in the list of  “seriously affected towns” are the municipalities of Baungon and Talakag and the towns of Manolo Fortich and Quezon as “moderately affected towns.”

Pulmano clarified that users in Cagayan de Oro come to Baungon town to buy shabu. He told board member and former Baungon mayor Rogelio Lago that pushers are based in the town. He said the trend is that because it is getting more difficult to trade and use drugs in the bigger cities, users and traders do this in rural areas like Baungon where they think enforcement is weak.

He cited region-wide figures on number of arrests and cases filed in court but cited no provincial figures. He denied reports that a suspected drug lord who is under surveillance in Bukidnon is a politician.

Earlier reports said the drug menace in the province is triggered allegedly by politicians who use the prohibited drug industry as a milking cow for campaign funds.

Pulmano said PDEA lacks funds for  fuel, among others.

Board member Nemesio Beltran Jr. urged them to seek budget augmentation from PDEA national office. Zubiri pledged he would back a move to give PDEA Bukidnon a new vehicle it could use in provincial operations to be sourced from the P25 million peace and order funds the Capitol allocates every year.

Pulmano said they want to do more drug awareness activities like a seminar with the Central Mindanao University’s NSTP (National Service Training Program) and reactivate the Barangay Anti Drug Abuse Council (BADAC) to initiate village-level clearing and educational activities.

Pulmano added that her office has started holding dialogues with judges and prosecutors who issued bail to non-bail drug cases. He named a Bukidnon judge and a Valencia City prosecutor who granted bail to two drug suspects, who are now at large and pursued by authorities. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)