By Jennifer Catan-Tilos
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) here recently reported that 71 out of 557 barangays in Negros Oriental are declared cleared from illegal drugs after receiving a certification by members of the Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug-Clearing Program.
However, Provincial Officer IA1 Gelly Robins Cataluña of PDEA reported in a Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting that out of the 486 drug-affected barangays, 290 are classified as slightly affected, 162 are moderately affected, 27 considered unaffected while seven barangays are seriously affected
PDEA is also focusing its operation on seriously drug-affected barangays in Poblacion, Basay; and Bagacay, Calindagan, Candauay, Looc, Piapi, and Cadawinonan in Dumaguete City.
Under the implementation of the Barangay Drug Clearing Program (BDCP), particularly the status and classification of barangays that are still drug affected, Cataluña said his team is set to visit more than 10 barangays in different municipalities and cities in the province.
The team will also regularly monitor barangays already declared as drug-cleared since the “drug cleared” status may be revoked if the barangay fails to maintain it, said Cataluña.
The PDEA agent also revealed that Negros Oriental serves as a trans-shipment point of illegal drugs from Cebu to Mindanao and vice-versa.
With that, PDEA sets to establish interdiction units at the airport and seaports to deter and catch drug syndicates and couriers sneaking in or smuggling illegal drugs.
It was noted that shabu remains to be the drug of choice among users and pushers in the province.
Included in PDEA’s anti-drugs campaigns is enhancing coordination with local government units (LGUs).
Cataluña said they need to go through the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC) and that LGUs should prioritize the creation of rehabilitation centers as they have the capacity to create reformation and rehabilitation centers.
To date, among the LGUs in the province, only Canlaon City is set to establish the Bahay Silangan or rehabilitation center.
The Dangerous Drugs Board sets Bahay Silangan Guidelines for community involvement in reforming drug offenders into self-sufficient and law-abiding members of society.