In addition to San Miguel which attained the distinction in October last year, three more municipalities in Catanduanes will soon be declared as drug-cleared by the Regional Oversight Committee on Dangerous Drugs.
Police provincial director Col. Paul F. Abay told the Tribune Wednesday last week (Feb. 19, 2020) that the towns of Gigmoto, Viga, and San Andres would be issued the coveted certification by the committee following the blessing and inauguration of their respective Balay Silangan Reformation Program facility last week.
This would also be contingent on their respective barangays’ completion of the requirements on Barangay Clearing set forth by Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regulation No. 3, series of 2017.
Already, 124 of the island province’s 315 barangays have been declared as drug-cleared, PD Abay said, compared to the 239 villages found to be affected by illegal drugs at the start of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. At the time, a total of 2,108 drug pushers and users surrendered to the police during the Oplan Tokhang, with majority of them undergoing the Community-Based Treatment and Rehabilitation Program (CBTRP) initiated by the provincial government and its partner agencies.
The island’s top lawman pointed out that the clearing of 124 villages is a remarkable accomplishment, considering that only 19 were declared drug-cleared in 2018, with 105 attaining the status last year as certified by the regional oversight committee composed of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Health (DOH), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Col. Abay attributed the achievement to the overwhelming support of the local government units in Catanduanes, the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADACs) and their respective Core Teams which are managing the rehabilitation of drug surrenderees along with other government agencies.
He likewise paid tribute to the surrendered drug users and their families who were determined in undergoing the different rehabilitation programs which need to be completed as part of the drug clearing program.
In asking for the support of every citizen on the island in the campaign against illegal drugs, the police provincial director said this joint effort could very well lead to the declaration of Catanduanes as the first “drug-cleared province” in the Bicol region.
However, Col. Abay reminded the 124 villages that the drug-cleared status is not permanent and that it could be revoked by the committee if within 30 days the barangay does not act on a report on the presence of illegal drugs in their jurisdiction. The concerned barangay officials could also face criminal and administrative charges under the Local Government Code of 1991 and Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
He also called on residents of drug-cleared barangays not to be alarmed if a drug personality is arrested in their localities, as this is just proof that the police is doing its job with the assistance of the BADAC particularly in the monitoring the movements of drug users and pushers.
“Your assistance in sharing information and keeping watch in your barangays will greatly help in the war against illegal drugs in your respective villages,” the Catanduanes police said in a statement, as it asked them to contact the nearest police station.
Certified as drug-cleared barangays in the province of Catanduanes are following:
BAGAMANOC (12 of 18 barangays) – Antipolo, Bugao, Bagatabao, Hinipaan, Magsaysay, Poblacion, Quezon, San Isidro, San Rafael, San Vicente, Sta. Teresa, and Sta. Mesa.
BARAS (10 of 29 barangays) – Abihao, Bagong Sirang, JM Alberto, Genitligan, Guinsaanan, Moning, Rizal, Salvacion, San Lorenzo, and San Miguel.
BATO (11 of 27 barangays) – Binanuahan, Ilawod (Poblacion), Guinobatan, Libjo, Marinawa, Mintay, San Roque, Sibacungan, San Andres, Sipi and Tilis.
CARAMORAN (5 of 27 barangays) – Hitoma, Mabini, Maysuram, Panique and Dariao.
GIGMOTO (7 of 9 barangays) – Biong, District I, District III, Dororian, San Vicente, Sicmil, and Sioron.
PANDAN (6 of 26 barangays) – Canlubi, Catamban, Oga, Tabugoc, Wagdas and San Andres.
PANGANIBAN (10 of 23 barangays) – Bagong Bayan, Burabod, Cabuyuan, Maculiw, San Miguel, Sta. Ana, Salvacion, San Antonio, Taopon, and Tilis.
SAN ANDRES (10 of 38 barangays) – Carangag, Datag, Palawig, Puting Baybay, Rizal, Sta. Cruz, Tibang, Tominawog, Wagdas and Yocti.
SAN MIGUEL (18 of 24 barangays) – District I, Boton, Buhi, JM Alberto, Kilikilihan, Mabato, Obo, Pagsangahan, Pangilao, Paraiso, District 2, District 3, Progreso, San Juan, San Marcos, Siay, Solong, and Tobrehon.
VIGA (23 of 31 barangays) – Ananong, Asuncion, Botinagan, Buenavista, Burgos, Mabini, Del Pilar, Magsaysay, Ogbong, San Jose Oco, Quezon, San Vicente, Sagrada, San Roque, San Pedro, Penafrancia, San Isidro, Tinago, Tambongon, San Jose (Poblacion), Soboc, Villa Aurora, and Roxas.
VIRAC (11 of 63 barangays) – Antipolo del Norte, Antipolo del Sur, Balite, F. Tacorda Village, Igang, Magnesia del Norte, Pajo Baguio, Pajo San Isidro, San Pedro, Sta. Cruz and Sogod Simamla.
Meanwhile, the number of municipalities with Balay Silangan Reformation Program facilities increased to four last week, with the inauguration of the facilities in Gigmoto, Viga, and San Andres.
Last Feb. 13, 2020, the local government unit of Gigmoto launched its Balay Silangan in coordination with PDEA, with PDEA regional director Christian Frivaldo leading Mayor Vicente Tayam Jr. and other local officials in the blessing and inauguration.
On Feb. 18, it was the turn of Viga as it prepared to be declared as the second drug-cleared municipality in Catanduanes with all its 23 drug-affected barangays and eight (8) unaffected villages certified as drug-free by the Regional Oversight Committee. Mayor Emeterio Tarin, Vice Mayor Cesar Cervantes and other local officials joined Acting Governor Shirley Abundo, PD Abay, DILG provincial director Uldarico Razal Jr., PDEA provincial officer IAS Adrian Fajardo, the Municipal ADAC, the LGU Core Team and barangay officials.
In the afternoon of the same day, Mayor Peter Cua joined the group for the Balay Silangan blessing in barangay Salvacion, San Andres.
It may be recalled that San Miguel town was the first to launch its Balay Silangan, with the town declared as drug-cleared, the first among the 11 towns.
The Balay Silangan Reformation Program provides general intervention, like continuing education and health awareness, psychological, spiritual, physical activities such as counseling, moral recovery, values formation, personal and life skills, among others.
Under Section 11 of DDB Board Regulation No. 2 Series of 2018, the personalities who are eligible to enter the program are those drug personalities who voluntarily surrendered and do not belong to the PDEA and PNP Target List, Wanted List, and Watch List or has any other pending criminal cases; drug personalities who availed of the plea bargaining agreement and/or convicted under Section 15 (Use of Dangerous Drugs) of the Act and are required to undergo the Drug Reformation Program as alternate intervention; and drug personalities who served jail terms for violation of the Act.
As a national drug reformation program that offers a temporary refuge for illegal-drug offenders/pushers, the Balay program aims to transform them into self-sufficient, law-abiding members of society and help them become more productive and acceptable members of society.