■ Ofelia C. Empian
Three municipalities and 15 barangays in the Cordillera were recently declared as drug-cleared by the Regional Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug Clearing.
The committee approved on Dec. 14 the drug-cleared status of the municipalities of Asipulo, Banaue, and Lamut in Ifugao; barangays Agtangao, Bañacao, Cabuloan, Lipcan, Macray, and Zone 3 in Bangued, Abra; Dumagas in Boliney, Abra; Laang, Laguiben, and Pawa in Lagangilang, Abra; Poblacion in Lagayan, Abra; Baac in Languiden, Abra; Nagbukel-Toquipa in Luba, Abra; Lacnog and Nambaran in Tabuk City, Kalinga.
Also, two municipalities and 68 barangays submitted their applications for vetting and confirmation for a drug-free status while 388 drug-cleared barangays applied for the retention of their status.
The committee, composed of the regional offices of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Police Regional Office, Department of Health, and representative of the LGU approved the applications following a thorough assessment.
Only 19 barangays have yet to be cleared of their drug-affected status in the region.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Cordillera outgoing Director Julius Paderes, who heads the committee, acknowledged that clearing drug-affected barangays is tedious due to the stringent process they must undergo.
“The challenge is for them to clear their barangays; if they were not able to clear their barangays it also reflects to the local executive. Hindi naman sa wala silang ginagawa. But the anti-illegal drug campaign in their area of responsibility ay hindi ganoon kainit or complacent sila,” Paderes said.
The towns of Besao, Mountain Province and Hungduan, Ifugao remains to be drug-free municipalities.
Drug-cleared LGUs are those previously recorded as drug-affected areas but underwent assessment, while drug-free LGUs are areas that remain to be unaffected and has been vetted and confirmed by the committee.