PALO, LEYTE, Philippines — With the recent fall of the Espinosa drug syndicate in Eastern Visayas, the Police Regional Office-Region 8 had declared 370 barangays, or 18 percent of 2,474 affected barangays, already drug-free, since the Duterte administration launched its intensified drug war.
PRO-8 Regional Director, Chief Superintendent Elmer Beltejar, said the Barangay Drug Clearing Operations have been implemented in October 2016 in collaboration with local government officials.
The number was the latest recorded so far, as of January 3, and of the 4,390 total barangays in the region, 2,474 have been drug-affected and this time only 2,104 more barangays are still to be cleared of drugs with the continuous enforcement of Project Double Barrel Alpha, he said.
All these barangays underwent rigorous evaluation in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-8 and the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils, and PRO-8 is now targeting to declare more towns and barangays as drug-free this year, said Beltejar.
The declaration of the drug-free barangays has been based on the following factors: Non-availability of drug supply; absence of drug transit/transhipment activity, clandestine drug laboratory, drug warehouse, and chemical warehouse; absence of marijuana cultivation site; absence of drug den; absence of drug pushers, users/dependents, and protector/coddler and financier;
Active involvement of barangays officials in anti-drug activities; active involvement of Sangguiniang Kabataan to help maintain the drug-liberated status of the barangay; existence of drug awareness, preventive education and information, and other related programs; and existence of voluntary and compulsory drug treatment and rehabilitation processing desk.
Beltejar considered the police operations against drugs a “success” with the drug supply in Eastern Visayas cut by as much as 90 percent, via Project Double Barrel-Alpha and he challenged more cities and towns to protect their communities from being infiltrated by drugs.
In a separate interview, PRO-8 Deputy Director for Operations, Senior Superintendent Allan Cuevillas admitted that the police authorities are now on alert for the possible regrouping of drug personalities and possible re-entry of illegal drugs to Region 8, by people traveling from Mindanao to Luzon or vice versa.
“So kailangan ang cooperation ng bawat sector sa Double Barrel-Alpha project ng kapulisan,” said Cuevillas.
The PRO-8 also urges the public to support the police in waging the war against drugs by providing relevant and timely information in their respective places, in the nearest police station, telephones or cellular phones, or through social media. —Miriam Garcia Desacada and Primo A. Cayubit (FREEMAN)