PDEA-12 assesses anew status of illegal drug trade in 51 villages

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 07 May) – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Region 12 has launched another round of assessment for 51 barangays in South Cotabato province that have not yet been declared as drug-cleared.

Katryn Gaye Abad, PDEA-12 public information officer, said Friday they are currently validating the status of the concerned barangays in terms of the presence of illegal drugs and the efforts to eradicate them.

Law enforcers burn mature marijuana plants discovered in the borders of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur province. (Photo courtesy of PDEA-12)

She said the assessment, which is targeted for completion before the end of June, is based on the new parameters or guidelines set by their central office on the drug-clearing program.

“After that, we will convene the oversight committee for the declaration of more barangays as drug-cleared,” she told reporters.

The committee, which is co-chaired by PDEA and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, includes the Department of Health and Philippine National Police.

The parameters for the assessment, as set by the Dangerous Drugs Board, are the “non-availability of drug supply; absence of drug-dependent, pusher, user, absence of clandestine drug laboratory; active involvement of barangay officials in anti-drug activities; the existence of drug awareness, preventive education and information programs; and the existence of voluntary and compulsory drug treatment and rehabilitation processing desks.”

Barangays are also required to ensure that the drug surrenderers in their areas properly complete the process or graduate from the community-based rehabilitation program.

Abad said the barangays, through their anti-drug abuse councils, should set aside a budget for drug prevention and control programs and may be sanctioned if they fail to comply with it.

Out of the 199 barangays in the 10 municipalities and lone city of South Cotabato, she said 140 have already been declared by the regional oversight committee as drug-cleared.

Two barangays, one each in Banga and Sto. Nino towns, were certified as drug-cleared in December last year.

Abad said 51 are classified as drug-affected while only eight are unaffected and will be assessed for declaration as “drug-free” areas.

The eight drug-unaffected barangays are Assumption in Koronadal City; Danlag, Halilan, Hanoon and Klubi in Lake Sebu; and, Afus, Mongocayo and Tbolok in Tboli. (MindaNews)