Over a year into the government’s nationwide campaign against narcotics trade, none of Bohol’s 1,109 barangays have officially been recognized as drug-free by the regional oversight committee that assesses drug presence in villages.
According to Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 7 director Emerson Margate, the PDEA which leads the oversight committee still needs to review the drug status of 500 barangays in Bohol before confirming them as drug-free.
“We need to review 500 barangays in Bohol, 100 in Cebu and some in Negros Oriental because we just can’t declare them as drug free because there needs to be proper validation,” said Margate.
Since the start of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs in 2016, 191 barangays in Central Visayas have been declared drug-free by the regional committee.
A total of 160 drug-free villages are in Cebu while 31 are in Negros Oriental, he said.
There are 3,003 barangays in Central Visayas and 87.5 percent or 2,629 barangays have been pinpointed as areas with drug presence making the region the third highest in terms of drug affected villages next to the National Capital Region with 95.3 percent and Zamboanga Peninsula with 96.1 percent.
According to Margete, the PDEA is moving towards clearing the entire region of illegal drug activities before President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ends.
“We want to realize this administration’s goal to declare all barangays as drug free before the president steps down,” he added.
Earlier, the PDEA noted that villages need to be cleared at the barangay and municipal levels before the oversight committee reassesses the area’s drug presence status.
The PDEA-led oversight committee includes the Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Health and Local Government Units.
For its part, the Bohol Provincial Police Office earlier declared almost 700 villages drug-free at the provincial level. (Rey Tutas)