THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police yesterday raised the alarm over the involvement of many barangay officials in the illegal drug trade.
National Capital Region Police Office director Chief Supt. Oscar D. Albayalde said amid findings that 94 percent of Metro Manila’s 1,706 barangays are “drug-affected,” many barangay captains have done nothing to stop the drug menace and have given them “screened” list of known drug personalities in their communities excluding the names of their relatives or friends and zeroed in on their rivals and supporters.
Albayalde said in Manila alone which has more than 13 million population, the previous drug list they got contained 11,940 names of known drug pushers and users.
He said they have neutralized majority of the suspects but have come up with a new list of 41,000 targets which are now being monitored as part of their enforcement of “Oplan: Tokhang” and “Project: High Value Target”
MPD director Senior Supt. Joel Napoleon M. Coronel said last Friday, seven suspected drug personalities led by a barangay captain in Quiapo, Manila were killed in gunbattle with the Manila Police District during a raid in a compound which has gained notoriety of being a drug haven.
PDEA director general Isidro S. Lapeña said more barangay officials are now considered “high-value” drug targets.
He said their records showed that in 2015, 65 barangay officials composed of six barangay chairmen and 59 barangay kagawads were arrested for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Last Thursday, four barangay officials included in the PNP drug watchlist surrendered to the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in La Union and Pangasinan, said PNP-CIDG director Chief Supt. Roel B. Obusan.
They were Randy Abuan, a kagawad of Bgy. Parian in Bauang, La Union; Genaro Camorongan, Leopoldo and Randy Ocampo, are all kagawads of Bgy. Beleng in Bayambang, Pangasinan.
A policeman identified as Senior Police Officer 2 Marlon Panitan of the San Fernando City police also yielded to the CIDG Region 1 after he was linked to illegal drug activities in the area.
Lapeña said the growing number of barangay officials being arrested for drugs is an eye-opener to the public and the government.
“This (2015 record) is 18.18 percent higher than in 2014 where 55 village officials (10 barangay chairmen and 45 barangay kagawads) were arrested for violating the anti-drug law and the highest since 2013 wherein 11 barangay captains and 29 barangay councilmen or 40 barangay officials were taken into custody,” the PDEA chief said.
He said from January to October 2 this year, 11 barangay chairmen and 40 kagawads or 51 barangay officials were already arrested for violation of RA 9165.
In the past two weeks, police have arrested two barangay captains in Zamboanga del Norte and Camarines Norte and four barangay councilmen in Lanao del Sur, Romblon, Butuan City and Oriental Mindoro.
He said Lamberto Villa, a barangay chairman- cum-drug group leader was neutralized when he was killed by lawmen in his house being used as a drug den in San Carlos City, Pangasinan last September 21.
“It is alarming that an increasing number of barangay officials are getting involved in illegal drugs. It is a shame that they are the highest elected officials in their communities but they are the ones selling illegal drugs, instead of taking care of the welfare of their constituents,” the PDEA chief said.