PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva. (Screengrab from RTVM)
MANILA – The government has conducted more than 500,000 wellness and recovery programs for drug surrenderers across the country as part of the Duterte administration’s move to holistically address the illegal drug problem, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said on Friday.
“This is something the people do not see. In every MOA (memorandum of agreement) that I signed with various agencies, we have this program called Barangay PDEA. They only see the number of deaths or those arrested. Since the start of the campaign against illegal drugs, a total of 558,661 wellness and recovery programs were undertaken for drug surrenderers in community centers supported by the Philippine National Police (PNP),” said PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva during the #RealNumbers press briefing in Quezon City.
Villanueva said the ‘Barangay PDEA’ program aims to promote a “balanced and humane” anti-drug campaign as it provides the public a more comprehensive platform of information on the harm reduction initiatives of the Barangay Drug Clearing Program (BDCP) like the Community-Based Drug Rehabilitation Program and Balay Silangan, both drug intervention programs for surrendering drug users and pushers to help them re-integrate in the society and become productive citizens.
“Ipapakita natin dito sa Barangay PDEA ‘yung mga totoong tao na nakapagbago ng buhay. Ilalabas natin ito in different platforms, sa social media, meron ding local TV. Meron ding cable TV. Ipapakita natin na ang war on drugs hindi lang huli, kulong, confiscation of dangerous drugs. (We will show here in Barangay PDEA those people whose lives were reformed. We will release this in different platforms, in social media, in local TV. We will also show this in cable TV. We will show that the war on drugs is not just about capturing, imprisoning suspects or confiscation of dangerous drugs). We reintegrate people into society so they will live fruitful lives and this humanizes the war on drugs of our President (Rodrigo Duterte),” he stressed.
Villanueva also vowed to go after village chiefs who have not established their own barangay drug abuse councils (BADACs).
“You don’t have BADAC in their barangay, then si kapitan, tokhangin na natin [then let’s conduct Tokhang on the village chief],” Villanueva said, as he clarified that Tokhang means “knock and plead,” or house visitation to persuade drug dependents to surrender.
According to Villanueva, every barangay should have BADAC to clear their area of illegal drugs.
A total of 20,165 out of 42,045 villages were cleared of drugs nationwide, based on the Real Numbers PH data presented.
These barangays have reached drug-cleared status after the issuance of a certification by members of the Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug-Clearing Program.
The agency assured that the health and safety of its agents are prioritized in anti-drug operations.
However, 14,171 villages have yet to be cleared.
“Our barangay drug clearing operations have slowed down because of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. The LGUs (local government units) are busy with Covid-19 so the rehabilitation program was stymied but it will not stop us from clearing barangays,” he added.
In the recent Real Numbers PH data, a total of 256,788 drug suspects were arrested, while 5,856 died during the 176,777 anti-illegal drug operations conducted since July 1, 2016 to August 31, 2020.
Those arrested include 431 government employees, 352 elected officials, and 102 uniformed personnel.
PDEA reported that 10,308 identified high-value target drug personalities were arrested — 282 foreigners, 2,957 target-listed, and 66 armed group members, among others.
A total of PHP53.46 billion worth of illegal drugs and laboratory equipment were seized by the law enforcers.
In the said amount of seizure, PHP43.69 billion were shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) weighing some 7,011.96 kgs., the report added.
Meanwhile, 620 dens clandestine laboratories were dismantled.
Villanueva said that PDEA, as the lead agency against illegal drugs, has adopted a three-pronged strategy in the national anti-drug campaign which focuses on reducing its supply, demand, and harmful effects.
The agency has created a Barangay Drug Clearing Program Working Group for Monitoring and Validation to fast-track drug-clearing operations in the communities and prevent the proliferation of illegal drugs in the barangays. (PNA)