The Police Regional Office (PRO)-7 yesterday questioned the Province of Cebu through its Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Office (CPADAO) on its declaration of 245 barangays as drug-cleared and drug-free.
PRO-7 Director Chief Supt. Debold Sinas said he wants to reassess the drug-cleared declaration of over 100 barangays in Central Visayas.
The police chief disclosed that the reassessment will start from Bogo City, the first local government unit (LGU) that was declared drug-cleared with its 29 barangays.
Sinas said police in Bogo City continue to confiscate illegal drugs and arrest suspected drug personalities despite the declaration.
However, CPADAO chief Ivy Durano Meca said Sinas may have misinterpreted the drug-cleared status as drug-free.
She explained that a barangay is considered drug-cleared if the drug problem has been “neutralized,” which means there are no more identified illegal drug sellers while the users/surrenderers have been enrolled in rehabilitation programs.
Meca added that a drug-free status, on the other hand, means surpassing the drug-cleared level.
A barangay can also be declared drug-free if barangay officials are active in the campaign against illegal drugs by conducting drug awareness, preventive education and information drives.
Under the Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation 3 Series of 2017, a barangay is drug-free if there is no supply of illegal drugs, no illegal drug trade and no illegal drug den or warehouse in the community, among others.
Of the 1,066 barangays in the province of Cebu, 245 were declared as drug-cleared.
Meca clarified that these 245 barangays including those of Bogo City are still not drug-free.
“Of course, I would say that all the 245 drug-cleared are not drug-free. It’s unrealistic also when we say drug-free,” she added.
Sinas insisted that the declarations were “rushed.”
The barangays that were declared drug-cleared underwent thorough deliberations by the Regional Oversight Committee which is composed of the PNP, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Department of Health, CPADAO and the Department of Interior of Local Government.
A drug-cleared status can be revoked if barangay officials fail to initiate the necessary intervention within 30 days since drug activities surface anew.
On his recent visit to Cebu, PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva warned that there will be charges if proven that LGU and police rushed the drug-free declaration.