Freeman Region

PRO-8 head admits drug proliferation in EV continues

Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros - The Freeman

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — Chief Superintendent Elmer Beltejar, director of the Police Regional Office-8, who is set to retire from service on August 30, admitted to the media in a recent press conference that the proliferation of illegal drugs in Eastern Visayas continues to this day.

Beltejar said only 30 percent of the barangays in Eastern Visayas are so far officially declared as cleared of drugs. He also said that the drugs circulating in the region come from Cebu and Manila.

The police official said Eastern Visayas could hardly be cleared of illegal drugs because the region is surrounded by sea ports and wharfs, which not all could be secured by the police.

In an interview with Tatak RMN-Tacloban Radio, Beltejar said the PRO-8 however has been doing its best to intensify further its anti-illegal drugs operations, particularly in the eastern part of Leyte province. "This is difficult because we have a long shoreline in that part of Leyte and there are some private ports that we cannot just deploy our men," he said.

Beltejar also said that, as of now, there is yet no big drug syndicate operating in the region in the same size as the Espinosa’s. "Our regional drug enforcement units are focusing on deterring the possible emergence of a new syndicate, and the police have been neutralizing high value targets in the process."

Meanwhile, following the arrest of three employees of the Tacloban City government in separate buy-bust operations last July, the City Hall officials have initiated random drug tests among all the employees.

Mayor Cristina Gonzales Romualdez vowed to make Tacloban a drug-free city by 2018. Vice Mayor Jerry “Sambo” Yaokasin, for his part, ordered city employees to make all offices drug-free workplaces.

Yaokasin added that drug testing is a requirement for work entry in the government and subsequently, government offices must conduct periodic drug tests every two years. "We must ensure that our city government employees are free from the dangers of drug use and are physically and psychologically fit to render public service," he added. (FREEMAN)

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