PDEA: 92% of Metro villages ‘drug-affected’
Of the 1,706 barangays (villages) in Metro Manila, just over 130 may be considered drug-free.
About 92 percent of the villages in the National Capital Region were “drug-affected” in 2014, or were found to have drug users, manufacturers, peddlers or cultivators in their areas, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
In a statement on Wednesday, PDEA Director General Arturo Cacdac Jr. said Metro Manila remains the worst among the regions, followed by Calabarzon, where 33.78 percent of the barangays were declared drug-affected.
But nationwide, only 20.51 percent or 8,629 of the country’s 42,065 barangays may be considered significantly affected by the drug menace, Cacdac said.
The “drug of choice” or the most used narcotic remains to be shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) and marijuana, based on PDEA’s 2014 arrest data. Last year, 88.78 percent of the seized illegal substances were shabu, while 8.86 percent were marijuana. Cocaine, ecstasy, ephedrine and others constituted only 2.36 percent.
Cacdac also noted that minors were increasingly becoming involved in the drug trade.
In 2014, a total of 179 minors were arrested nationwide for possession, sale and transport of illegal drugs. The number was 20.94-percent higher than the 148 counted in 2013.
They included a 6-year-old child who served as a drug courier, “the youngest suspect arrested for a drug offense since 2003,” the PDEA chief said.
Drug syndicates may be relying on minors to exploit the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, which exempts underage offenders from criminal liability, he said.
Minors, however, can still be held liable if the court finds that they acted with discernment in violating the antidrug law, Cacdac stressed.
The PDEA data were based on consolidated figures from its local offices and other law enforcement agencies. Jaymee T. Gamil, Inquirer Research
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