BALANGA CITY: The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has declared Bataan as the first drug-free province in the country, Gov. Albert Garcia announced on Wednesday.
The governor said this after the PDEA completed the assessment and validation of Bataan as 100 percent drug-free based on 14 parameters set by the Dangerous Drugs Board.
He added that at the start of the government’s war on drugs, Bataan was listed as the highest drug-infested province in Region 3 with more than 90 percent of its barangays (villages) heavily affected; they did not contest this but instead worked steadily to rid the province of drugs.
Based on the PDEA Barangay Anti-Drug Action Council list, there were more than 3,000 alleged notorious drug personalities reported in the province.
“The number was all accounted for. They all fell into four categories – arrested in buy-busts, admitted to drug reformation centers, resisted and got killed and left their villages based on reports of the barangay leaders,” Garcia said.
The governor and his brother, Second District Rep. Jose Enrique Garcia 3rd, said they have requested President Rodrigo Duterte to come to Bataan to formally announce the good news.
The governor said this positive development is now being felt in Bataan and serves as a signal for more investments to come in.
Garcia added that 80–90 percent of all crimes in Bataan were drug-related, but “the numbers remarkably dropped and are as good as solved.”
He credited the leadership and men of the Philippine National Police (PNP), local chief executives, village leaders and the private sector for contributing in making Bataan drug-free with favorable peace and order condition.
Police Senior Supt. Benjamin Silo Jr., Bataan police director, said 341 drug suspects were arrested while 24 were killed in 279 police operations from July 1 to November 15, 2016 under the PNP Double-Barrel project.
“They were killed but the police never initiated the first shot,” Silo, a lawyer, added.
He said many preferred to surrender and in batches were admitted for reformation to three rehabilitation facilities in Balanga City and another one in Limay town, all called the Bahay Pag-asa Reformation Center.
The Bataan police chief said at the start of their anti-drug campaign on July 1, 2016, 219 out of 237 barangays recorded drug infestation at 92 percent.
“We are happy that as of November 15, 2016, all the barangays are cleared as validated by PDEA,” he added.
Meanwhile, Police Senior Insp. Jennifer Cruz, Bataan Police public information officer, said in spite of the number of people killed during legitimate police operations, no extra-judicial killing was reported in the province.