(UPDATED) Twenty-two barangays and two municipalities in Palawan were declared “drug-cleared” Tuesday during the Regional Oversight Committee (ROC) validation meeting in Puerto Princesa City lead by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Mario Ramos, PDEA regional director, said the 18 drug-cleared villages are: Barangays Ipilan, Bato-bato, Malinao, Estrella, Elvita and Tacras in Narra municipality; Iraray in Sofronio Española; Isaub and Plaridel in Aborlan; Mendoza and Rizal in Roxas; Baldat, Culango and Malaking Patag in Culion; Taratac and Sumbiling in Bataraza, and San Miguel and New Culaylayan in Linapacan.
The other four barangays are located in the city, namely Tanabag, Concepcion, Tagabinet and Napsan.
The towns of Kalayaan, Quezon, and Linapacan were also cleared of drugs.
Ramos said the barangay drug-clearing is the solution to solve the problem in illegal drugs.
He added local governments should focus on demand reduction of illegal drugs just like how it is in the law of “supply and demand”.
“Para kasi itong supply and demand, kapag marami ang supply mura lang pero kapag konti ay nagmamahal. Ang problema, kapag marami ang kliyente ay maraming adik at ‘yong produkto ay dating ng dating. Hindi pwedeng yabang lang ng pulis o ng PDEA, ‘yong huli ng huli ay hanggang d’yan na lang naman ‘yan dahil dating ng dating ang supply. Demand reduction at drug clearing talaga ang sagot, wala ng iba,” Ramos explained.
However, he said he is still “not satisfied yet with the result of the clearing operation in the entire region.”
“Kulang na kulang pa [ang bilang ng lugar na nadeklara]. Why? ang target this year is something 136 or 140 [towns and barangays] kaya kung titingnan natin kulang na kulang ang 24 [22 barangays and 2 municipalities in Palawan]. But, madadagdagan ‘yan dahil ito ang first province we conducted validation. Madadagdagan ‘yan,” Ramos added.
Governor Jose Alvarez called on Bataraza Mayor Abraham Ibba to act on the drug problem in his town so that it can also be declared as drug-cleared.
Alvarez said the town is being used as a passage of illegal drugs from Mangsee Island in Balabac.
“Maraming pera d’yan dahil napakaraming produkto ang Bataraza. Mabuti itong dalawang barangay na ito, Sumbiling at Taratac [ay naideklara na] kaya sana d’yan ay kumalma na dahil dyan dumadaan ang supply galing sa Mangsee. Kaya ngayon magpakitang gilas naman ang mayor nila dahil gusto natin ang ang MIMAROPA ay maging drug cleared very soon,” the governor pointed out.
Ibba said his town will be declared as drug-cleared before the end of May.
“Sa atin naman, target natin na ma-declare tayo as drug-cleared bago matapos or bago mag-election sa May,” Ibba said.
In October 2018, 20 barangays and two towns in Palawan have been declared drug- cleared.
The ROC is composed of representatives from the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the provincial government.