Sorsogon City to be declared ‘drug cleared’
By Bobby Q. Labalan SORSOGON CITY --- This city will be declared “cleared” of illegal drugs in formal ceremonies to be attended by Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, director of Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5), at the Bibincahan Gymnasium here Friday. Sorsogon City is the last local government unit to be declared as drug-cleared in the province of Sorsogon since the intensified anti-narcotics drive of the government that was aimed at both high-profile and street level drug personalities started in July 2016. The Sorsogon City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (SCADAC) came up with the declaration as contained in its Resolution No 1-2017 dated February 27. According to the resolution, all of the city’s 64 barangays have been declared as “drug-cleared” villages based on the declaration of their respective barangay councils and Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADAC). It also stated that the intensified operation of “Project Double Barrel” resulted in the total eradication of the presence of drug personalities and illegal drug activities in the city of Sorsogon. City Mayor Sally Lee lauded the declaration as she attributed it to the relentless efforts of the community stakeholders, especially the Philippine National Police, barangay officials, schools, women, senior citizens, students and youth organizations. In January, PRO5 cited the Sorsogon Provincial Police Office (PPO) headed by Senior Supt. Ronaldo Cabral for recording the lowest crime rate among the six PPOs and one city PPO in Bicol for 2016. Cabral attributed this to the various community relations program of the PPO that proved effective in engaging various sectors in curbing the drug scourge that has been seen as contributing to the high incidence of crime in the province. Lee said the government remains steadfast in its commitment to maintain the city free from the perils of illegal drugs. “We will continue all programs and activities that have brought about this declaration even as we assure those who have surrendered that the city government will assist them in the best ways possible,” she stressed. PRO5 officials said their assessment of the performance of the PPOs in Bicol with regards to the government’s drug war uses the term “drug clear” as only the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has the authority to declare a local government unit as drug-free. Last Monday, the PNP reassumed its leading role in the illegal drug campaign after the PNP was temporarily suspended from administering “Operation Tokhang” nationwide in the wake of controversy that hounded the killing of a Korean businessman last month. The suspension prompted the government to hand over to PDEA the major role in the campaign with the PNP taking a supporting role.