359 Cordillera villages remain unaffected by illegal drugs
By Liza Agoot
BAGUIO CITY (Philippines News Agency) -– The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) said a total of 359 villages have remained unaffected by the illegal drugs trade since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.
PDEA CAR Regional Director Edgar Apalla said they are also hoping to continue the clearing of around 6 percent of drug-affected villages or 75 out of the 1,176 total barangays in the six provinces — Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province and two cities of Baguio and Tabuk that comprise the region.
“We are steadfast with the other government law enforcement agencies to clear the remaining villages in the region that are drug affected to contribute in efforts to reduce crimes related to drugs and achieve lasting peace in the countryside,” Apalla told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Saturday.
Apalla said the 75 affected villages are either due to the presence of narco-listed drug personalities in the barangay level or the resurgence of activities related to illegal drugs at the end of 2017.
Of the 75 affected villages with narco-listed drug personalities, Abra has 19; Apayao with five; Baguio with two while Ifugao and Kalinga have one each. No narco-listed personality was recorded in Mountain Province and Benguet.
On the other hand, out of the barangays that were reverted to drug-affected status, Baguio City accounted for the biggest number with 19, followed by Abra with 12; Kalinga, six; and Benguet, three.
Apalla said there was no village in Apayao, Ifugao and Mountain Province that was reverted to drug-affected status as of 2018.
During the fourth quarter joint meeting of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) on December 18, Apalla assured the region’s leaders that there are no drug laboratories or big-time drug syndicates operating in the region.
On the other hand, the PDEA-CAR official claimed that there are 159 monitored drug personalities who were either target or watch-listed operating within the different parts of the region.
A total of 98 are watch-listed while 61 are target-listed, mostly operating in Baguio, Benguet and Abra.
Meanwhile, Apalla reported that police operatives and anti-narcotics agents arrested 65 drug personalities and confiscated some PHP11.6 million worth of prohibited drugs in 269 anti-drugs operations from October 1 to Dec. 6, 2018.
He added that the series of region-wide anti-drug operations resulted to the filing of 78 cases for violations of the provisions of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. (PNA)