By Aaron Recuenco
Only 38 percent of the more than 42,000 barangays of the Philippines are still infected by illegal drugs, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Monday.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP deputy chief for operations, said that when President Duterte assumed the presidency in July 2016, the total number of drug-infected barangays were 33,869 which represent 81 percent of the total 42,045 barangays of the Philippines.
“After 43 months, a total of 17,816 barangays were cleared which brought down the infected barangays from 81 percent to 38 percent,” he said.
Eleazar said the cleared barangays include all those in Bataan and Aurora, two provinces which were officially declared drug-free in a ceremony on Saturday.
Eleazar also clarified that at least eight provinces were cleared of illegal drugs under the administration of President Duterte.
Aside from Bataan and Aurora, also cleared were Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Sur, Mountain Province, Quirino, and Biliran.
Eleazar attributed the big decrease in the number of barangays affected by illegal drugs to the aggressive illegal drugs campaign launched in 2016.
“Had it not [been] for the drug war, we would have not accomplished this,” Eleazar said.
“And had it not [been] for the drug war, we would have not reduced the crime incidents by 64 percent in the first three and a half years of this administration, compared with the last three and a half years of the last administration, because we subscribed to our belief that most of the crimes are connected to illegal drugs use.”
Eleazar said they are working double time to clear the remaining 16,053 barangays from illegal drugs, and added that the good practices employed by government anti-narcotics agents will be replicated in other areas still affected.
“Under the leadership of our new Chief PNP, General Archie Gamboa, this momentous occasion (celebration of Aurora and Bataan being drug-cleared provinces) will serve as our motivation to continue working in order to free more provinces until we achieve the President’s vision of liberating the entire country from illegal drugs,” Eleazar said.
The official then challenged policemen and local officials in drug-cleared areas to continue maintaining the drug-free status of their areas. “If there will be a resurgence of drug activities in their areas and no appropriate interventions were done in a month’s time, their status might be reverted to affected communities.”