By Jennifer Tilos
DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, July 24 — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) here has reported that 75.40% of the barangays in Negros Oriental are still affected by illegal drugs as of July this year.
PDEA Officer Elmer Ebona, during a Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting, said 91 barangays have been drug-cleared, two remain unaffected, 51 are certified unaffected, and 413 barangays are considered drug-affected.
However, of the 22 barangays in Sta. Catalina town, 20 have been declared as drug-cleared and the two barangays are drug-free already.
Sta. Catalina would have been declared as a “Drug-Cleared Municipality” but Ebona said it lacks a drug reformatory facility or Balay Silangan, which is a major requirement before it can be declared by the Regional Oversight Committee.
Balay Silangan, a community-based reformation program aimed at rehabilitating surrendered drug personalities, seeks to build temporary shelters for drug offenders with the aim of reforming them to become self-sufficient and law-abiding members of society.
Ebona said the drug reformists will undergo month-long general interventions such as continuing education and health awareness and psychological/spiritual/physical activities, including counselling, moral recovery, values formation, personal and life skills, as well as livelihood and skills training programs to give reformers employment opportunities.
Currently, there are five local government units (LGUs) in the province tha thave started putting up its own Balay Silangan, namely: Canlaon City, Ayungon, La Libertad, Basay, and Mabinay.
With Negros Oriental being the most affected province in Central Visayas, Ebona said there is a need to further strengthen the tie-up between law enforcement units, Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government, local government units, non-government organizations, and other government agencies for a more concentrated effort in addressing the drug affectation in each locality.
Local Anti-Drug Abuse Councils in each locality must implement the Barangay Drug Clearing Program to address the drug affectation in their respective areas.
The parameters to declare a barangay as drug-cleared also include the active involvement of barangay officials in anti-drug activities, Sangguniang Kabataan’s active involvement in maintaining drug-free status, existence of drug awareness, preventive education and information, and putting up of drug treatment and rehabilitation processing help desks.
PDEA also reported that from January to July this year, a total of 1,162.676 grams of shabu were seized with about P7,906,196.8 million worth of illegal drugs.
In the sme period, there were 35 cases of violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of the Philippines and other related cases filed in court. Philippine Information Agency
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