Surigao Norte town declared drug-free by PDEA

TUBOD, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews / 12 May) – This municipality has been declared “drug free” by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Thursday as all villages in this town have allegedly been cleared of drug users and pushers, authorities said.

Ricardo C. Quinto, PDEA deputy director general for operations, declared the town of Tubod as already cleared of illegal drugs during the formal recognition at the municipal gymnasium Thursday morning. This means they no longer have drug-affected villages, he added.

“This is the first town in Caraga Region that has been declared drug-free,” the PDEA official said.

The declaration was based on the updated report of the Surigao del Norte Police Office on its implementation of “Project Double Barrel” from July 1, 2016 to March 6, 2017.

Report showed that at the start of the government’s intensified drug campaign after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, at least nine villages were affected by problems spawned by illegal drugs.

“We’ve already cleared all nine villages in this town,” Quinto said.

A “drug-cleared” status means that authorities have verified and confirmed the non-availability of narcotics supplies in the barangay, and the absence of drug transit or transshipment activities.

“But we’re not putting our guards down. Our aim is to continue our pursuit of our target local drug personalities, eradicate the drug problems in the remaining affected areas and maintain the drug-free status of the cleared areas by doing constant monitoring,” said Gilbert Buenafe, acting regional director of PDEA-Caraga.

Mayor Richelle B. Romarate said she will continue to monitor the villages to ensure her town will be free from illegal drugs.

She underscored the pro-active role of all Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils in the nine villages.

The mayor said to ensure that the drug users will not go back to their old vice, she will improve tourism and agriculture in the area to give economic opportunities.

Police records showed that at least 395 drug users and pushers in the town surrendered to authorities since the implementation of “Oplan TokHang,” the police’s anti-drug campaign that started with President Duterte’s assumption of office.

At least six drug suspects have been arrested and no deaths have so far been recorded, police said.

Some residents here have expressed elation on the news that their place is now free from the proliferation of illegal drugs.

“We’re happy to hear the news. This should be continued and replicated in the different towns and cities across the country. Before, I can see drug addicts in town, but now they’re gone. Thanks to the President,” said Kristine Grace Limato, a resident of Barangay Poblacion. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)