VIGAN CITY — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Ilocos Sur Provincial Office (PDEA- ISPO) has declared some 391 out of the 632 barangays and 17 out of 32 municipalities in the province as drug-cleared as of June 2020.
In an interview on Wednesday, PDEA ROI-ISPO Provincial Officer Anabel Cabarles said that 50 percent of the total affected municipalities in the province have been cleared from drugs.
“Continuous ang ating revalidation for those drug-cleared barangays and municipalities, in cooperation with our Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADAC), to monitor kung tumigil na sa paggamit at pagtutulak ang ating mga identified persons who use drugs,” she said.
The said municipalities are: Alilem, Banayoyo, Burgos, Cervantes, Gregorio Del Pilar, Nagbukel, Lidlidda, Quirino, San Emilio, San Esteban, San Ildefonso, San Juan, San Vicente, Sigay, Sugpon, Suyo, and Tagudin.
The two cities, Candon and Vigan, are not yet cleared from drugs, she added.
With the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Cabarles said even during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until now that the province is under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), the provincial office has been receiving tips from concerned citizens regarding suspicious illegal activities in their community.
“Noong ECQ, mahirap mag-conduct ng operations kasi limited ang manpower namin. Karamihan kasi sa amin ay naabutan ng lockdown sa kanilang mga probinsiya’t bayan pero noong nagsimula na ang general community quarantine, nagtuloy-tuloy na ang ating operations. So far we have conducted a total of six anti-drug operations kung saan na-aresto ang anim na high-value targets dito sa probinsiya,” she said.
Amid the quarantine period, PDEA-ISPO is maximizing the use of social media in disseminating vital information for the enforcement of its anti-illegal drug strategies.
One of these is the establishment of “Balay Silangan” in each town and cities in the province.
This offers temporary refuge, with the objective of reforming drug offenders into self-sufficient and law-abiding members of society, for surrendered drug personalities.
Cabarles said that as of this year, four of these have been constructed; one is functional where 18 surrenderers have completed their six months drug reformation program.
Some of them are now working at their local government unit, she said.
“Ang ating mga ‘Balay Silangan’ ay matatagpuan sa bayan ng Tagudin, Galimuyod, Cervantes, and Lidlidda,” she added.
Interventions, like health awareness, and physical activities such as counselling, moral recovery, values formation, personal and life skills, among others, are provided under the program.
Livelihood and skills training programs, which depend on their skills or interests, are likewise provided to give drug reformers employment opportunities.
With the hope of making the province of Ilocos Sur a drug-cleared community, PDEA-ISPO Provincial Officer Cabarles is urging the public to cooperate with the PDEA to end various illegal drug activities in the province.
She said, “Open ang aming Facebook page dito sa PDEA ROI ISPO, sa regional office pati na sa aming Central Office na pinangungunahan ng aming Director General Wilkins Villanueva through his program na ‘Isumbong mo kay Wilkins’ para tumanggap ng inyong mga report regarding illegal drug activities sa komunidad.”
However, she clarified that all tips and reports received at their contact pages and numbers undergo thorough evaluation not just from the PDEA but also from partner law enforcement agencies, like the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, among others.
Concerned citizens can send reports to the PDEA RO1 ISPO Facebook page or contact PDEA Ilocos Sur’s hotline 0966-811-3575 and the #IsumbongMoKayWilkins hotline numbers at 0995-534-7020 and/or 0931-027-8212. ●