'Drug-cleared' barangays not necessarily 'drug-free'

·2 min read

THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Central Visayas has admitted that they and the police continue to arrest drug personalities in the more than 1,400 barangays that were declared “drug-cleared” in Central Visayas.

However, Leia Alcantara, PDEA Central Visayas information officer, said the barangay’s status won’t be affected if the barangay itself had discovered the illegal drug activity and reported the matter to authorities.

The agency explained that once a barangay is declared “drug-cleared” doesn’t mean illegal drugs can no longer be found in the barangay. What it means is that the previous drug situation has changed for the better.

“Yes, actually there are drug-cleared barangays where drug personalities are arrested. However, we don’t revoke a barangay’s status, especially if we see that the report came from the barangay. That means the barangay is pro-active in the war against illegal drugs and it doesn’t want the return of illegal drugs,” Alcantara said in Cebuano.

Alcantara said the PDEA and other government agencies that implement the barangay drug clearing program continue to keep an eye on barangays that have been declared “drug-cleared.”

If they discover that the barangay has stopped monitoring resident drug personalities who were forced to undergo community-based rehabilitation and the drug problem has returned, then the barangay’s “drug-cleared” status will be revoked, she said.

Alcantara said they’ve also noticed that recently arrested drug personalities in “drug-cleared” barangays are new players, as their predecessors have mostly retired from the illegal drug business.

Alcantara said that once a barangay is declared “drug-cleared,” it must come up with activities to prevent the resurgence of the illegal drug trade like conducting seminars to educate residents about the ill-effects of illegal drugs, among others.