Only 8 barangays in South Cotabato not drug-free — PDEA

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Only eight of South Cotabato province’s 199 barangays have remained affected by the illegal drug problem as the government’s anti-drug campaign continues to gain ground in the area, an official said Monday.

Gil Cesario Castro, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Region 12 director, attributed this to the continuing intensified anti-drug operations in the province by the agency and local police units.

Citing their assessment, he said the remaining “drug-affected barangays” represent 5.03 percent of the 199 barangays within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

Castro said they have already declared as “drug-cleared” a total of 191 barangays or 94.97 percent as of this month.

He said the eight still “drug-affected” barangays are Gen. Paulino Santos in Koronadal City, Ambalgan in Sto. Nino, Kematu in Tboli, Ned, Talisay and Seloton in Lake Sebu, and Poblacion and Kipalbig in Tampakan.

A report released by the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office showed that “the degree of affectation” in these barangays is classified as just “slight.”

Kematu, which is part of the gold rush area in T’boli town, had been noted for the resurgence of illegal drugs, specifically methamphetamine hydrchloride or shabu, due to its thriving small-scale mining industry.

Barangay Ambalgan in Sto Nino is considered as among the province’s most problematic area for illegal drugs being a known entry point of shabu supplies distributed in the province and the neighboring areas.

Castro said the classification of the barangays may change from time to time, depending on the results of the continuing local campaigns.

He specifically cited interventions for drug dependents and other personalities who had surfaced and surrendered voluntarily to authorities.

“If the surrenderers will not undergo treatment and will continue to use illegal drugs, then the problem will continue,” he said.

Meantime, police operatives in South Cotabato have netted around P1.9 million worth of illegal drugs in various operations from January to June this year.

Sr. Supt. Franklin Alvero, South Cotabato police director, said their units conducted a total of 155 “successful” anti-illegal drug operations during the period.

He said 86 of these were buy-busts, 37 based on search warrants, one from serving of arrest warrant, two in checkpoint operations, and 29 others in chance operations.

These operations resulted to the recovery of some 260 grams of suspected shabu and 197 grams of dried marijuana.

The Koronadal City police station posted the most number of operations conducted and the highest number of illegal drugs seized valued at P1.4 million.

A total of 211 suspected drug pushers and couriers had been arrested, and 652 cases were filed in local courts, he added. (MindaNews)