Only 32 barangays in South Cotabato remain affected with drugs – police

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 14 October) – Police authorities in South Cotabato are pushing for the clearing of illegal drugs by next year of the 32 remaining drug-affected barangays in the province.

The provincial capitol of South Cotabato in Koronadal City. MindaNews photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

Maj. Virlen Pampolina, operations section chief of the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office, said the drug-clearing operations are ongoing on Thursday in the concerned barangays in coordination with other law enforcement agencies and local stakeholders.

He said a number of barangays have already complied with the requirements of the drug-clearing program and submitted the necessary reports and documentation to the regional oversight committee.

“Some of them are just waiting for the certification from the chairman of the committee,” he told reporters.

The oversight committee, which is co-chaired by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, includes the Department of Health and the Philippine National Police.

From May to September, at least 19 drug-affected barangays in the province’s 10 towns and lone city have been declared as drug-cleared by the regional oversight committee.

As of the third quarter of the year, Pampolina said 159 of the province’s 199 barangays were already declared as drug-cleared.

He said eight have been certified as drug unaffected will be subjected to further assessment for declaration as “drug-free” areas.

These barangays are Assumption in Koronadal City; Danlag, Halilan, Hanoon and Klubi in Lake Sebu; and, Afus, Mongocayo and Tbolok in Tboli.

Pampolina said they have expanded their engagements with local stakeholders, including municipal and barangay anti-drug abuse councils to strengthen their campaigns and operations in the communities.

He said they consider these “support groups” as the first line of defense against the proliferation of illegal drugs in the communities

“We have established a strong collaboration with the communities to counter the demand on the ground,” he said.

The official said they also increased their presence on social media, especially Facebook, to enhance anti-drug advocacy, especially among the youth.

From June to September, South Cotabato police units have launched at least 78 anti-drug operations, comprising 43 buy-busts, 26 police response assistance, and the serving of one search and eight arrest warrants.

Recovered were some 24.55 grams of marijuana and 33.37 grams of shabu worth a total of P231,111.

Some 61 drug pushers, including high-value target personalities, as well as seven users were arrested, and with 57 cases already filed in various courts. (MindaNews)