72 Cordillera barangays still drug-affected

BONTOC, Mountain Province March 26 – Some seventy two barangays in the different parts of the Cordillera remain to be drug-affected based on the recent assessment conducted by the Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug Clearing program.

Edgar Afalla, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-CAR), said there were some 40 barangays in the different parts of the region that were reverted back to drug-affected status based on the results of the validation conducted in the said barangays that were earlier cleared by police operatives and anti-narcotics agents.

Of the 72 drug affected barangays in the region, Abra accounted for the most number of barangays with 31 followed by Baguio City with 23, Kalinga – 7 barangays, Kalinga and Apayao with 5 barangays each and Ifugao with 1 drug affected barangay while Mountain Province remains to have zero drug affected barangays.

Afalla claimed that of the 40 barangays that were reverted to drug affected status, Baguio City accounted for the most number of reverted drug affected barangays with 18 followed by Abra with 12 barangays, Kalinga – 6 barangays, 3 barangays in Benguet and 1 barangay in Ifugao while Apayao and Mountain Province did not have barangays that were reverted to drug affected status.

The PDEA-CAR official reported during the first quarter joint meeting of the Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) and Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) chaired by Baguio city Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan that two barangays in Baguio city, namely Lopez Jaena and Aurora Hill proper, were cleared by the oversight committee from being drug-affected.

According to him, of the 359 drug-unaffected barangays, Ifugao accounted for the most drug-unaffected barangays with 93 followed by Abra with 86, Mountain Province – 79 barangays, Kalinga – 38 barangays, Apayao – 31 barangays, Benguet – 28 barangays and Baguio City – 4 barangays.

Earlier, he added, there were some 739 barangays in the different parts of the region cleared by the oversight committee where Abra accounted for the most cleared barangays with 186 followed by Kalinga and Benguet with 107 barangays each, Baguio City – 102 barangays, Apayao – 97 barangays, Ifugao – 81 barangays and Mountain Province – 65 barangays.

Afalla noted there has been a continuous influx of local and foreign tourists in Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga and that there has been alleged swapping of shabu and marijuana in Buscalan and Tabuk city, Kalinga over the past several months.

Moreover, PDEA also disclosed there has been continuous cultivation of high grade marijuana in Tinglayan, Kalinga and Kibungan, Benguet through the years, thus, the need for the intensive monitoring of foreign tourists in the said areas and for the police, military and anti-narcotics agents to do stringent intelligence monitoring of drug personalities who are from the lowlands bringing in shabu in the region.

Afalla assured the massive conduct of marijuana eradication operations in the said areas aside from strong collaboration with the barangay anti-drug abuse councils (BADACs) concerned and other law enforcement agencies in the said areas. By Dexter A. See

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