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Drug-free communities were found in 87.11 percent of Western Visayas villages.

CITY OF ILOILO – According to a report from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) regional office here, Western Visayas is 87.11 percent free of illegal drugs.

During the latest deliberation of the Regional Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug Clearing on February 10, PDEA spokesperson Shey Tanaleon said 16 new barangays were proclaimed drug-free, while 38 others maintained their status.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Health (DOH) are members of the regional organization, which is chaired by the PDEA.

The number of cleared barangays in the region has risen to 3, 529 out of 4,051 communities.

“As of this date, Western Visayas has been drug-free for 87.11 percent of the population.” “If we were able to clear this 87 percent, we are more than optimistic that we will be able to clear all of them, despite the problems that come with drug-clearing operations,” Tanaleon said in a phone interview.

Parian in the municipality of Sigma, Capiz; Balanti-an and Kinalkalan in Balasan; and Purok 1, Qui-anan, and Siwaragan in San Joaquin, all in Iloilo, were among the freshly cleared barangays.

Barangays Caliling and Isio in the municipality of Cauayan; Castellano, Lemery, and Telim in Calatrava; Madalag in EB Magalona, Culipapa in Hinobaan, 5 Poblacion and Riverside in Isabela; and Barangay Damsite in Murcia, all in Negros Occidental, were also removed.

To far, 99.32 percent of Aklan’s 327 barangays have been drug-free, as have 97.50 percent of Iloilo province’s 1,721 barangays, 95.91 percent of Guimaras’ 98 barangays, 89.21 percent of Capiz’s 473 villages, and 53.57 percent of Negros Occidental’s 601 barangays.

Meanwhile, 48.88% of Iloilo City’s 180 barangays and 21.31 percent of Bacolod City’s 61 barangays have been cleared.

“Unlike in the countryside, drug-clearing operations in heavily urbanized cities provide a larger challenge. “It’s important emphasizing that most illegal drug transactions take place in urban areas, even if our characters are from the provinces or even from beyond Western Visayas,” Tanaleon remarked.

She stated that in order to expedite their drug-clearing operation, they are now concentrating on surrenderers who require community-based rehabilitation and reformation.

The closing of rehabilitation centers as a result of the pandemic was also a problem.

The drug users, on the other hand, have signed agreements to undertake rehabilitation once the facilities are finished and manpower from local government agencies is available.

“At this point, we’re concentrating on individuals. Rather than always performing operations, we concentrate on the reintegration of individuals back into society. “It doesn’t mean there’s no possibility for improvement when you’re addicted to drugs,” Tanaleon remarked.

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