San Juan set to be NCR's first drug-cleared city

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said the city is soon to be the National Capital Region's (NCR's) first drug-cleared city after all 21 of its barangays have been provisionally declared drug-free by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Zamora made the announcement in an interview with ANC on Thursday, Dec. 16, following the 4th Deliberation of Application of Drug Affected Barangays for Drug Cleared Status and 4th Conferment of the Resolution of Retention for Drug Cleared Barangays held on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at the city hall, which was attended by law enforcement agencies and city government officials.

“As of yesterday, after lunch, the last three barangays have been provisionally drug-cleared, meaning we just have to submit some documents, some certifications by January," the mayor said.

"If PDEA will appreciate these submissions, possibly by January, we will be a drug-cleared city," he added.

Earlier, Zamora expressed his support to the national government’s latest program against illegal drugs, which aims to use a more holistic approach to the country’s illegal drug problem.

Dubbed as the “Buhay ay Ingatan, Droga ay Ayawan” or BIDA program of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos and the Marcos administration, it is a nationwide anti-illegal drugs advocacy program involving local government units (LGUs), national government agencies (NGAs), and other key sectors of the society.

It will focus more on drug demand reduction and rehabilitation in the communities, underscoring the role of drug enforcement agencies, including the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

During the program’s launch in Quezon City on Nov. 26 which was attended by local government chiefs and officials including Zamora, Abalos stated that the illegal drugs problem is a deep-seated issue that has continued to destroy relationships, families, and the future of the youth.

“It is a holistic approach into the drug war incorporating livelihood, education, the church addressing the social ills of our country. So, we address not just the branches causing the problems, but also uproot the drug problem. That is the framework of the BIDA program of Sec. Abalos,” Zamora said.

Showing his conviction in eradicating the illegal drugs, the local chief said that he will also personally join drug raids with the city's police force to make sure that the implementation of the protocols are correct.

"It’s also my way of sending a message to everyone involved in drugs and criminality in our city that their mayor is serious in eradicating the drug problem here in San Juan and maintaining peace and order in our city,” he added.

Aside from this, Zamora said the city government is currently fixing its Balai Silangan which will serve as San Juan’s drug reformation center where a PDEA office will also be built.

“This is a part of our drug-clearing efforts. In fact, part of the validation is the fact that we are already setting up our Balai Silangan,” Zamora said.

The reformation center is funded by the city government wherein its patients will also be taught livelihood programs and classes to help them in their reintegration to society.

“We look at our PWUDs or the persons who use drugs as our constituents whom we have to support in terms of getting reintegrated back into the community. So we are setting this up for them, we will fund this for them, and we will make sure that during their stay here, they will be able to learn how to go back to normal life,” the mayor said.

“Yes, they ha6ve experienced getting into drugs, being hooked into these substances, but again, we have to give them a second chance to be able to reintegrate themselves into the community,” he added.