20 villages in Negros Oriental declared ‘drug-free’

DUMAGUETE CITY -- At least 24 barangays in Negros Oriental have already been declared free from the illegal drugs trade based on parameters provided by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), a police official said.

Sr. Supt. Henry BiAas, acting director of Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NORPP), on Friday said the declaration was made by the respective municipal or city anti-illegal drugs abuse council via a resolution.

He explained that a barangay is declared free from the illegal drugs trade once it has been established that there are no more drug personalities, whether users or pushers, in that village.

The police in Negros Oriental are targeting to have about 50 barangays in the province declared as drug-free, he said.

The names of the barangays that are drug-free were not made available yet as his office is still collating data gathered from the different police stations, he said.

BiAas said this activity does not in any way contradict the suspension of anti-illegal drugs operations by the PNP, as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.

There is no police operation, such as buy-bust or the service of search warrant, involved here, because this is a program involving local officials, especially at the barangay level, to ensure that their local community is no longer affected by the illegal drug problem, he said.

Some barangays were previously affected by the drug problem but are now determined to be 100 percent free from it, according to BiAas.

He said he has pushed his police chiefs to assist the barangay captains in the compliance of requirements as stipulated in the DDB so that these areas can now be categorized as drug-free.

BiAas said their mandate now is to ensure the reduction of the so-called "focus crimes" or index crimes that would include murder, homicide, theft, robbery and physical injuries, to name a few.

This new instruction came following the suspension of the PNP's anti-illegal drugs operations, with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency now taking the lead as embodied in their mandate, he said.

Binas said they are to ensure that these "focus crimes" are reduced because this is a "barometer" used to determine the peace and order status of an area.

A low percentage of "focus crimes" in a particular area would give the public a feeling of safety and security knowing that it is peaceful and orderly there, he said.

In a related development, BiAas said that based on a recent report, there is a perceived increase in the occurrence of crimes versus property, such as snatching, hold-up and "akyat-bahay" of break-ins in Dumaguete City, the provincial capital.

He said he has ordered the police chiefs to monitor the incidence of such crimes in their respective areas following public perception of a rise in petty crimes in the absence of anti-illegal drugs operations.

BiAas, however, declined to comment on a possible relationship between the increase in common crimes and the suspension of the PNP's anti-illegal drugs operations. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency