Town in Sarangani declared ‘drug-cleared’

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 July) — Authorities have declared the entire municipality of Alabel, Sarangani Province’s capital, as “dug-cleared.”

Gil Cesario Castro, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Region 12 director, said the municipality’s 13 barangays are considered “cleared” of illegal drugs and related activities based on regulations set by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).

He said the declaration came after a series of assessments conducted by PDEA-12, Sarangani and Alabel police and concerned stakeholders.

The official said all barangays in Alabel underwent thorough evaluation as provided for in DDB Board Regulation No. 3, series of 2017 or “Strengthening the Implementation of Barangay Drug-Clearing Program.”

“They all satisfied the parameters for declaration as drug-cleared barangays,” Castro told reporters following the ceremonial declaration held at the municipal gymnasium on Wednesday afternoon.

He specifically cited the provisions of Section 8 of DDB Board Regulation No. 3, which set 14 requirements for concerned “drug-affected barangays.”

Castro said the most difficult among the requirements was the clearing of the barangays of users and pushers but noted that Alabel was able to hurdle it.

Based on the DDB regulation, a barangay may be declared as “drug-cleared” through recommendations from the local police, local government unit and stakeholders.

Prior to the declaration, barangay anti-drug abuse councils or BADACs are required to conduct drug-clearing operations within their areas of responsibility and later undergo inspection by police personnel.

The city or town’s chief of police should then issue a certification attesting the status of the barangay while the concerned barangay council should pass a resolution declaring their area as drug-cleared.

These are then subjected to further evaluation by the program’s regional oversight committee.

Since July 2016, the Alabel municipal police station has launched 14 major anti-drug operations that resulted to the arrest of 14 suspects and the filing of 18 cases.

At least three grams of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu worth P65,100 were recovered during the raids.

A total of 805 self-confessed drug pushers and users have also surfaced and surrendered voluntarily during the period.

Alabel Mayor Vic Paul Salarda said his town’s declaration as “drug-cleared” does not mean that their job is finished with the fight against illegal drugs.

“This is just the start. We have to make sure that we maintain that status,” he said.

The mayor said he has directed the local police to continue with their anti-drug surveillance and operations, especially against the drug personalities who had surfaced.

Alabel is the fourth municipality in Sarangani that was declared as “drug-cleared” since May. The three others were the municipalities of Glan, Malungon and Malapatan. (MindaNews)