• ‘More women into illegal drug trade’

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    LEGAZPI CITY, Albay: More women are now getting involved in the illegal drug trade because heads of the family have been arrested or have surrendered in Bicol Region since July 1.

    “With the massive anti-drug campaign, we’ve noticed that more women, including children, opted to engage in illegal drug peddling for survival,” Maria Luisa Calubaquib, Philippine National Police (PNP) Bicol spokeswoman said.

    The PNP Bicol data from July 1 to August 15, 2016 showed 41,474 drug suspects have surrendered.

    Of this number, 1,171 are women—981 users, 172 peddlers and 17 runners.

    Among the female surrenderers, 18 users are government employees, 85 from private firms, 326 self-employed and 742 jobless.

    Calubaquib said they will recommend severely affected drug users for rehabilitation.

    Among the six provinces in Bicol, Camarines Sur has the highest number of surrenderers with 322 closely followed by Albay, 320, Camarines Norte, 191, Masbate, 97, Sorsogon, 74 and Catanduanes, 32.

    Naga City, capital of Camarines Sur, posted 135 surrendered women, 92 of them users and 43 peddlers.

    Two of the drug users are government employees.

    Most of the women involved in drugs are married (462), single (454), separated (212) and widow (33).

    Surrenderers who are minors number 1,069 female, 18 years old and below, with Albay province having the highest number at 127.

    Next to Albay is Masbate with 21, followed by Camarines Sur with 16, Sorsogon with 12, Camarines Norte, 2, and Catanduanes, 0.

    But for females aged 18, data showed that Albay has 304 cases, Camarines Sur, 277, Camarines Norte,168, Masbate, 105, Sorsogon, 64, and Catanduanes, 30, while Naga City has 121.

    Calubaquib said out of 3,498 barangay (villages) in the region, at least 1,251 or 36.04 percent are drug-affected.

    According to records, Naga City is 100 percent affected but among the six provinces, Albay and Catanduanes have the most number of drug-affected barangay at 49 percent; Camarines Norte at 39 percent; Masbate at 31.10 percent; Sorsogon at 32.16 percent and Camarines Sur with 27.51 percent.

    Since the implementation of “Oplan Tokhang,” at least 33 people were killed, with Albay having the highest number of casualties at 14, Camarines Norte, 7, Camarines Sur, 6, Sorsogon, 3, and Naga City, 3.

    Meanwhile, Chief Supt. Ramon Melvin Buenafe, Police Regional Office-5 director, said 34 chiefs of police (COPs) in Bicol were sacked for unsatisfactory performance in the anti-drug drive.

    “The relief order took effect on Tuesday after national police evaluators found out that these police officers failed to meet their performance targets in the implementation of Oplan Double Barrel,” he added.

    Affected by the revamp were the COPs in four towns and two cities in Albay, two cities and five towns in Camarines Sur, six towns in Camarines Norte and five towns each in the provinces of Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon.

    In Albay, the COPs affected by the relief order were the chiefs of police in the cities of Legazpi and Tabaco and the towns of Manito, Guinobatan, Santo Domingo and Rapu-Rapu.

    Buenafe said the dismissed officers will undergo refresher courses on police operations at the Personnel and Human Resource and Development Office at Camp Simeon Ola in Legazpi City.

    Since July 1, some 23 policemen in Bicol have been investigated for alleged drug links and 10 were dismissed from the service for drug use and protection of drug traders.

    Revamp of PNP personnel in Bicol covers only 30 percent of the 114 police chiefs assigned to the region’s 108 towns and six cities.

    WITH REPORT FROM PNA

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