NEARLY 30 percent of the country’s 42,029 barangays are considered ‘drug-affected’ with local government units miserably failing to address the menace despite several directives from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) during the previous Aquino administration, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
In particular, the drug problem is being felt in majority of barangays in Metro Manila, Calabarzon region and Central Visayas where drug-related crimes hounded the Philippine National Police in the past.
In Metro Manila alone, the National Capital Region Police Office, headed by Chief Superintendent Oscar D. Albayalde, has to confront the problem that nearly 93 percent of the total 1,706 barangays are drug-afflicted, prompting calls for more active citizens’ participation in the crackdown against narcotics and most importantly, the need for all Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils or BADACs to take a very active role in the anti-narcotics war.
PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa has ordered the 170,000-strong police force to bring the fight against illicit drug trafficking and abuse in the barangay level thru their Project: Double Barrel and Oplan: Tokhang aimed at accounting for both big-time and street-level drug traffickers and secret drug facilities including shabu laboratories and ‘tiyangges.’
Again, questions have been raised over the failure of many governors, city and municipal mayors and barangay captains to address the drug problem in their areas despite the issuance of Memorandum Circular No. 2012-94 on May 21, 2012 by then DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo followed by another circular issued on June 16, 2015 by former DILG Sec. Mar Roxas which all aimed to strengthen the City, Municipal and Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils.
Officials said BADACs are actually the ‘front-liners’ in the war versus drugs since they should be well-funded, equipped and organized. The substantial BADAC funds, former DILG Sec. Roxas said before must be used in the conduct of anti-narcotics campaign in all barangays involving the police and other law enforcement agencies, barangay officials and the community.
On June 16, 2015, Roxas required all provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, chapter presidents, barangay captains, DILG regional directors, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor and other concerned local officials to revitalize their BADACs chaired by the barangay captain.
He also made it clear that barangay officials will be held administratively liable for gross negligence or dereliction of duty should they fail to take appropriate measures to stop illegal drug activities in their communities.
But last year, validated records from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said that as of June 2015, there are 11,310 ‘drug-affected’ barangays in the country out of the 42,029 total or 26.91 percent. ‘Unaffected’ are 30,719 or 73.09 percent of the total barangays.
PDEA records show that the following are the regions where the most number of barangays are considered drug-afflicted: National Capital Region with 1,574 or 92.26 percent of its total 1,706 villages; Region 4-A or the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon with 1,969 or 49.09 percent of its 4,011 barangays ‘drug-affected and Region 7 in Central Visayas with 1,466 or 48.82 percent of its total 3,003 barangays afflicted by drugs.
The other barangay drug affectation follows: Region 1 in Ilocos-Pangasinan region--604 or 18.50 percent of its 3265 barangays; Region 2 in Cagayan Valley with 527 or 22.80 percent of its 2,311 barangays; Region 3 in Central Luzon with 1,285 or 41.42 percent of its 3,102 barangays; Region 4-B comprising the provinces of Mindoro Oriental, Mindoro Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan with 304 or 20.84 percent of its 1,459 barangays; Region 5 in Bicol with 559 or 12.56 percent of its 3,471 total barangays;
Region 6 in Western Visayas with 509 or 12.56 percent of its total 4,051 barangays; Region 8 in Eastern Visayas with 192 or 4.37 percent of its 4,390 barangays; Region 9 in Western Mindanao with 385 or 20.22 percent of its 1,904 barangays; Region 10 in Northern Mindanao with 416 or 20.57 percent of its 2,022 barangays;
Region 11 in Southern Mindanao with 342 or 29.43 percent of its 1,162 barangays; Region 12 in Central Mindanao with 488 or 40.84 percent of its 1,195 total barangays; Region 13 in Caraga region with 491 or 37.45 percent of its 1,311 barangays; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with 69 or 2.77 percent of its 2,490 barangays; and Cordillera Administrative Region with 130 or 11.05 percent of its total 1,176 barangays.