72 Bicol barangays declared as 'drug-free'

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regional Oversight Committee (ROC) has cleared and declared a total of 72 villages in Bicol as “drug-free”, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the region said on Thursday.

Christian Frivaldo, PDEA acting regional director, said the ROC of the Barangay Drug Clearing Operation (BDCO), issued the declaration after completing a strict validation and clearing process.

Declared as “drug-free” are 22 villages in Albay, followed by Camarines Norte with 20; Masbate - 12; Sorsogon - 11 and Catanduanes with seven.

Camarines Sur province has no drug free village yet.

Frivaldo said the villages had to "comply with the parameters set by the DDB before they would be declared cleared of drugs".

“If they fail to carry out the 14 parameters set, the clearance would then be revoked,” he said.

The parameters include among others, a functional BADAC (Barangay Anti-illegal Drug Abuse Council), non-availability of drug supply, absence of drug pushers, drug users, drug coddlers, financiers' drug shipment activity, drug laboratory, warehouse, marijuana cultivation, drug den, existence of drug awareness campaign and voluntary and compulsory drug treatment and rehabilitation processing desk.

Asked why was there was no Bicolano politician included in the narco-list issued by President Rodrigo Duterte, Frivaldo said: “That was just an initial list, the validation process is still going on. The President could issue another round of names based on the result of the validation.”

“The absence of Bicol politicians in the initial list doesn’t mean there will be none, continued validation of politicians directly or indirectly involved in the drug trade are carefully validated and submitted to the office of the President,” he added.

On the issue of drug hot spot areas, Frivaldo said being monitored are villages in the towns of Irosin and Bulan in Sorsogon; Daraga and Guinobatan in Albay; Baao and Nabua in Camarines Sur; and Virac in Catanduanes.

He said there are reports saying these areas are developing into hot spots based on the number of drug surrenders identified and the number of drug operations conducted. (PNA)