First HUC in the Visayas; PDEA-8 declares Tacloban drug-free
Miriam Garcia Desacada (The Freeman) - December 5, 2017 - 4:00pm

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Region 8 on Monday declared Tacloban City as drug-free, the first highly urbanized city (HUC) in the entire Visayas to be given the distinction, within three months after the agency took over the drug war operations from the Philippine National Police.

PDEA-8 Regional Director Edgar Jubay conferred on Mayor Cristina Gonzales Romualdez the official drug-free declaration of Tacloban in ceremony, which was also attended by officials and members of the oversight committee from the Department of Health and the city government.

Romualdez credited the drug-free status of the city to the hard work of the PDEA-8 with the city government’s New Beginnings Rehabilitation Program. Tacloban has 138 barangays, and 11 of these have been deemed non-affected of illegal drugs ever since.

In a news conference after the ceremony, Jubay said it is now the right time for PDEA-8 to declare Tacloban as a drug-free HUC, after the city passed the parameters set by the Dangerous Drugs Board.

The DDB’s parameters, under its Regulation 3-series of 2017, are: non-availability of drug supply; absence of drug dens, pushers, financiers, users, and clandestine drug laboratory; active involvement of barangay officials in anti-drug activities; existence of drug awareness, preventive education and information; and existence of voluntary and compulsory drug treatment and rehabilitation processing desk.

"We are at the same time encouraging barangay officials in maintaining its active participation to safeguard their respective areas of concern na hindi na mapasok pa ng illegal drug operation. This is always a crucial moment kasi maliit lang na bagay na makita ang pagbalik ng druga mawawala na naman ang drug-free declaration ng Tacloban. We have to help each other, of course," Jubay said.

The fight against illegal drugs in Tacloban, under the leadership of Romualdez, had resulted in the surrender of nearly 5,000 users and pushers, who later joined the New Beginnings Rehabilitation Program, in coordination with the DILG’s MASID (Mamamayang Ayaw Sa Iligal na Droga ) program, and the PNP’s Double Barrel Reloaded.

The PDEA-8, in its earlier operations, had arrested several employees of the city government found positive of drug use after conducting random drug tests at the City Hall.

Jubay added that, before the declaration of Tacloban as a drug-free HUC, the PDEA-8 carried out clearing operations in all drug-affected barangays, as part of the verification process of the oversight committee. (FREEMAN)

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