Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bicol police reports 'clearing' of 50% of barangays in Bicol affected by drug scourge
by Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 4 (PNA) —- A top official of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO-5) reports that 285 barangays (villages) or 50.18 percent of the 568 barangays affected by the drug problem in the Bicol region have been “cleared of the problem of proliferation of illegal drugs” during the six-month anti-illegal drug campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, PRO5 director, said the six-month campaign covered the period from July 1 to October 25, when Project Double Barrel was enforced; and from Oct. 26 to Jan. 4 when Project Double Barrel Alpha was being enforced by the PNP against the drug scourge.

Project Double Barrel had targeted both the street-level drug personalities and the high-profile personalities while Project Double Barrel Alpha “intensified” the campaign by setting a “target number” of drug personalities to be arrested each day by the six Provincial Police Offices or PPOs.

Buenafe cited that the 568 barangays deemed affected by the drug problem constituted 17 percent of the total of 3,471 barangays in the Bicol region.

He said Sorsogon PPO topped the PPOs in the region with the most number of “cleared barangays” at 98.77 percent; followed by Naga City, PPO-93.33 percent, Camarines Norte PPO-87.65 percent, Masbate PPO-88.20 percent, Catanduanes PPO-58 percent.

He said the PPOs with the least number of cleared barangays were Camarines Sur PPO-20.61 percent and Albay PPO-9.52 percent.

Buenafe said their records showed that in Albay, 108 barangays out of a total of 720 barangays were deemed affected by the drug problem.

“Out of the 108 barangays, only 10 villages have been deemed ‘cleared,’” he said.

Chief Insp. Arthur Gomez, investigation chief and spokesperson of Albay PPO, said that even as Albay PPO was the least performing in the barangay clearing operations, there were other parameters where Albay PPO was able to perform well.

He said Albay PPO was “second” in the implementation of Operation Tokhang (door-to-door campaign) under Project Double Barrel Alpha campaign.

“From July 1 to Jan. 4, Albay PPO has 25,974 surrenderees (2,083 pushers; 23,891 users), 154 drug personalities arrested and 30 drug suspects killed,” Gomez said.

PRO5 records showed Camarines Sur PPO topped the six PPOs with 26,302 surrenderers, 226 drug personalities arrested and 18 killed.

Buenafe said under Projects Double Barrel and Double Barrel Alpha, PRO5 recorded 85,705 drug personalities (79,836 users; 5,869 pushers) who have surrendered to police and local authorities, 861 drug personalities arrested and 82 killed in police operations.

“There were 1,119,114 houses visited under Operation Tokhang while 151 firearms and 50 vehicles were recovered,” he said.

Buenafe said PRO5 had scored its “biggest performance” compared to the other regions because of the discovery of the clandestine shabu lab in Barangay Palta Small in Virac, Catanduanes on Nov. 26.

He added the police also recovered 18 bricks or 12.17 kilograms of cocaine off the shores of Barangay Sogod in Tiwi, Albay on Dec. 19 last year.

Buenafe said the police operations in Virac and Tiwi had contributed to the high performance rating of PRO5 compared to all regional police offices in the country in the anti-illegal drug campaign as assessed by PNP’s general headquarters in Camp Crame.

"Aside from the continuous police operation under project Double Barrel Alpha we are now concentrating on barangay clearing operations," he said.

Buenafe said he is “very hopeful” that in the coming months, the Bicol region will be declared drug-free."

He recently launched the “Bicol Region Ayaw sa Droga or BRAD” program in the six Bicol provinces as a way of “saturating” all 3,471 barangays in the region.

BRAD is an organization composed of different sectors from the academe, students, religious, business and non-government groups, barangay officials and residents, media, PNP and other government and law enforcement agencies, who are working together in the information and education campaigns in the communities to curb abuse of illegal drugs and other dangerous substances. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD/EDS