199 villages in Region 12 declared drug-free

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/03 January) — At least 199 barangays in Region 12 are now considered “drug-free” as a result of the government’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs.

Chief Supt. Cedrick Train, Region 12 police director, said Tuesday the concerned barangays were all declared free from illegal drugs in the second half of 2016 following a series of campaigns under the Philippine National Police’s Project Double Barrel.

He said the 199 “drug-free” barangays comprise close to 17 percent of the 1,195 barangays within the region’s four provinces and five cities.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Train said the “drug-free” declarations were made by the barangays based on recommendations from a validation committee composed of police personnel, local officials and other stakeholders.

He said the validations were stringent and conducted by the committee at the neighborhood levels.

“These (declarations) did come from us or were made because we said so, but through initiatives of community stakeholders,” he said in an interview over television program Magandang Umaga South Central Mindanao.

The police official said the clearing operations at the barangay level are ongoing in line with the implementation of the second phase of the campaign, which is Project Double Barrel Alpha.

The initial phase of the campaign, which was launched in July last year in line with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s “war against illegal drugs,” focused on the accounting and surfacing or surrender of “lower-value” drug personalities under operation plan or Oplan Tokhang.

The second phase involves heightened operations against high-value targets and the clearing of barangays.

Train said he directed all chiefs of police in the region to continue with the accounting of drug personalities as well.

“It would be difficult to clear our barangays from illegal drugs if we could not account all drug personalities,” he said.

From July to December last year, he said police units in Region 12 arrested a total of 1,418 illegal drug users and pushers, while 84 suspects were killed in “legitimate operations.”

He said their personnel have visited around 431,000 households, schools and local establishments under Oplan Tokhang or Toktok-Hangyo (knock and plead).

In terms of drug personalities, Train said they accounted around 36,000 users and pushers in the last six months.

He said such figure is a huge leap from their baseline data of just 9,000 illegal drug personalities.

“This is our biggest accomplishment under the campaign. As of now we have accounted for more than 100 percent of our drug personalities within the region. There are still some who have not surfaced but they are already identified and being subjected to operations,” he added. (MindaNews)