Pasig is first city in Metro Manila to have ‘drug-cleared’ barangays
Pasig, where a “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) tiangge was discovered just meters away from city hall in 2006, has just become the first city in Metro Manila to have not one, but three, “drug-cleared” barangays.
During an awarding ceremony on Monday morning, Pasig Mayor Robert Eusebio declared Barangays San Jose, Bagong Katipunan and Sta. Rosa clear of illegal drugs.
The three areas earned their status based on the standards set by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency according to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regulation 2, series of 2007 and amended by DDB Regulation no. 2, series of 2006.
According to the DDB regulations, an area can be considered drug-clear in the absence of the following: drug supply or drug transit/transshipment activities; drug laboratories and warehouses, chemical warehouses; marijuana cultivation sites; drug dens; users and pushers; drug protectors and coddlers.
A drug-cleared barangay should also have barangay officers who are active in various illegal drug activities such as a drug awareness and preventive campaign. It should also have a voluntary and compulsory drug treatment and rehabilitation processing desk.
Eusebio, recognizing the efforts of the barangay officials, the Philippine National Police and Anti-Drug Abuse Council of Pasig (ADCOP), gave cash prizes of P500,000 each to Barangay San Jose chair Ronwaldo Angeles and Barangay Bagong Katipunan chair Jeronimo Alba. Barangay Sta. Rosa chair Reynaldo Morelos, on the other hand, received a P350,000 cash prize. The money, according to Eusebio, would go to the barangays’ drug-clearing sustainability programs.
“We will keep on working. The recognition actually pressures us to sustain our drug-cleared status,” Angeles said.
The clearing operations were implemented by Eusebio’s special evaluation committee led by Jay Timbreza of the city’s Department of the Interior and Local Government which was created in September. Its members were Councilors Corazon Raymundo and Victor Maria Regis Sotto, rural health physician Dr. Amelito Javier, community advocate Nilda San Agustin, Pasig police chief Senior Supt. Orlando Yebra Jr. and ADCOP head Zenaida Concepcion.
The three barangays, according to Concepcion, were chosen because of their successful implementation of community-based rehab programs.
They were also among the areas with the smallest number of drug surrenderers, making it easy to manage their drug problem, Yebra said.
Barangay Bagong Katipunan had 12 surrenderers; Sto. Rosario had 20 while San Jose had 30, according to the data gathered by ADCOP.
Concepcion said that to be declared drug-cleared, all the users and pushers in a barangay must be all accounted for. This meant that they had either surrendered, been arrested or neutralized in legitimate police operations.
Surrenderers, meanwhile, were required to undergo a community-based rehabilitation program or one ran by the national government. To help them get back on their feet, the Pasig City government initiated an “Oplan Tupad” program under which they would undergo training for future employment. Only recently, Sapitula entered into an agreement with a construction firm which approved the hiring of qualified surrenderers.
Yebra, however, said that drug-clearing operations would continue in the three barangays.
“The barangays were assessed and have been declared drug-clear for this period. In case another user or pusher will be arrested, the barangay will undergo another clearing procedure,” he explained.
“It doesn’t mean that if a barangay is declared drug-cleared, it stops there. We will continuously monitor them,” Yebra told the Inquirer.
He noted that having a barangay declared drug-free was wishful thinking. “We can only declare an area drug-cleared but not entirely free. There is always the possibility that drugs will enter the picture. A minor may learn to use drugs or a drug user may move to this place,” Yebra added.
For his part, Sapitula said they hoped to make more barangays clear of drugs by next year.
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