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PDEA shifts to drug clearing of barangays

DAVAO CITY — Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Isidro Lapeña on Friday, June 30, said the PDEA has shifted its strategy from war on illegal drugs to clearing barangays of the drug menace.
“In the grassroots, we have shifted our strategy to the barangay drug- clearing program because this is where the drug problem thrives. Dito ‘yung kalakaran ng droga. Ito ‘yung nakakaapekto sa mga mamamayan natin sa grassroots,” Lapeña said during the Mindanao Hour briefing here.

“This is the one that matters actually and so we shifted ‘yung aming effort on the barangay drug clearing program and we have that number of barangays already cleared up to this date, 3,677,” he said.

“While we have concentrated or intensified ‘yung law enforcement function on illegal drugs, we have shifted also to the demand reduction,” he added.

Lapeña pointed out that the barangay officials have also been warned of possible liability for neglect of duty if they refuse to help in the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

“They know what is happening in their barangays. That’s why we are enlisting ‘yung tulong ng mga barangay officials natin at the grassroots level, sa mga barangay. And we have been telling them that there is no middle ground dito. They have to help, it’s either they are with us or they are against us,” Lapeña explained.

He added that there was an offer from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to help the government in the campaign against illegal drugs in the areas that are affected by the conflict with the MILF.

“We have to involve them para makasama sa kampanya against illegal drugs in those areas that are considered conflicted areas,” Lapeña said.

Lapeña reported that 2,446 kilograms of illegal drugs worth P12.62 billion had been seized in various operations as President Rodrigo Duterte marks one year in his presidency today and that 1,308,078 drug suspects had surrendered to date.

In the same briefing, meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella reiterated that the government will not negotiate with the terrorist group currently holed up in Marawi City.

“Again let me just reiterate, government’s policy is not to negotiate and whatever demands made within in Marawi with whatever negotiating groups, this holds no basis,” he said, adding that the extremists will be held accountable for the Marawi crisis.

Abella also said the Palace is looking forward to the quick cessation of violent activities in Marawi as well as its rehabilitation.

“We’re looking forward so that we can move on, so that we can proceed with normal flow of events, and among other things is the move towards federalism, to be able to engage in, to be able to address socio-concerns in the area,” Abella said.

For his part, Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay, deputy commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said that the military had “effectively shielded Eastern Mindanao” from further terrorist attacks and deterred any diversionary, retaliatory or sympathetic attacks by the local terrorist groups in the area.

“After 38 days of martial law, Eastern Mindanao Command, under the leadership of Lieutenant General Guerrero, who is also the martial law implementor in Eastern Mindanao, has continuously prevented the spillover or spread of the Marawi crisis in our area of responsibility,” he said.

Gapay added that the military has also “denied terrorists” from making Eastern Mindanao as their safe havens, sanctuaries, and even as transit points and reported that it was largely attributed to the tightened security measures being implemented by the Command.

“We would like to thank the general public for your continued support and cooperation for the successful implementation of martial law here in our area,” Gapay said.

“Your continued vigilance and alertness are instrumental to this success. So let us continue working together to maintain the peace and preserve law and order here in Eastern Mindanao,” he added. ###PND

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