Sarangani province’s premier tourist destination declared ‘drug-free’

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/ 07 June)–The municipality of Glan, Sarangani province’s premier tourist destination due to its fine white sand beaches, is now “drug-free.”

Glan Mayor Victor James Yap said Wednesday the town’s 31 barangays were declared “drug-free” following an assessment by different government line agencies fighting the drug menace.

He said the town’s villages were declared free of illegal drugs based on criteria set by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regulation No. 3, series of 2017.

DDB Regulation No. 3, Series of 2017 defines a drug-cleared barangay “as previously drug-affected and subjected to drug-clearing operations.”

A “drug-cleared” status means that the oversight committee, led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, has convened and validated “the non-availability of drug supply in the area and the absence of drug transit activity, clandestine drug laboratory, clandestine drug warehouse, clandestine chemical warehouse, marijuana cultivation site, drug den or resort, drug pusher and drug user.”

President Rodrigo Duterte launched an all-out war against illegal drugs across the country upon assuming the presidency last year.

“In Region 12, Glan is the first municipality to follow all the procedures and has complied with all the documents set forth by the regulation in the drug clearing operation process,” Yap said.

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

Yap lauded the village and Sangguniang Kabataan officials for their active involvement in eradicating the drug menace in the town, which is famous for its annual “Sarbay Festval.”

SarBay, which stands for Sarangani Bay, gathers tens of thousands of beach party-goers during summer time for nights of fun and music along a stretch of fine white sand beaches in Gumasa district.

Organizers canceled this year’s SarBay, the 12th edition, due to the conflict in Marawi City. The SarBay crowd peaked at around 150,000 last year after reaching 126,000 during its 10th year in 2015.

Gil Cesario Castro, PDEA -12 director, urged Glan’s village officials to be vigilant to prevent the illegal drug trade from taking roots again in their communities.

In case of the resurgence of illegal drug activities in a village, he said that such village will not be automatically be reverted as drug-affected barangay but will be given 30 days to take appropriate action.

“We fully support the endeavor of Glan to attain a drug-free municipality status to protect their tourism-oriented industry. We want Glan to be visited because of its breathtaking beaches, friendly people and excellent food and not for drugs”, Castro said. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)