By Restituto A. Cayubit
Palo, Leyte – The province of Southern Leyte has been declared by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to be drug-free.
Aaron N. Aquino, PDEA director general, in his speech during the PDEA regional office building inauguration in this town last Wednesday, said the declaration was made last Tuesday during a ceremony in the capital town of Maasin.
Aquino said Southern Leyte is the third province in the country to be declared drug free, after Batanes and Romblon.
He said another province in Eastern Visayas will be declared as drug-free soon.
Aquino provided a heads-up on the government’s efforts to contain the drug menace.
He said that of 2,552 drug-affected barangays in the region, 1,618 have been cleared, representing 63 percent of the total.
The remaining 934 barangays will be rid of drugs by 2022, Aquino said. That means clearing 266 barangays every year or 22 barangays per month.
“I am putting this challenge to PDEA Region 8 (Eastern Visayas). And I feel and I am positive that eventually in 2022 they should have cleared all barangays in the region,” he said.
The region has seven cities, 136 municipalities and 4,390 barangays.
Southern Leyte has Maasin as the lone component city and also its provincial capital. The province has 18 municipalities, 500 barangays and a population of 421,750.