by Jane B. Cadalig
Five provinces in the Cordillera are drug-free areas, according to the Police Regional Office-Cordillera.
PRO-Cor Information Officer Marcelo Polig said Abra, Apayao, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province are awaiting formal declaration as drug-free areas following the arrest of suspects and clearing of drug affected communities, as listed by law enforcement agencies.
Polig said the declaration of an area as drug-free means that no more drug suspect has been arrested and clearing operations have been conducted in all areas earlier identified as drug-affected.
The drug-free status of the five provinces is as of Dec. 31, 2016.
Benguet and Baguio City cannot be declared drug-free yet since suspects are still being arrested and drug-related activities are reported in these areas, he said.
Polig said more than 11,000 suspects were accounted for under the police’s Oplan Double Barrel Alpha, which focuses on the arrest of high-value target personalities involved in illegal drugs and progressing towards the clearing of all drug-affected barangays nationwide.
The regional police targeted to accost 6,000 suspects under the Oplan Double Barrel Alpha.
Polig said the police continuously monitor Tinglayan, Kalinga to make sure that the areas where marijuana naturally grows are immediately cleared.
He said while the illegal weed naturally grows in the municipality, the fact that no new arrests were made and clearing operations were held in the areas qualifies the province to be declared drug-free.
Polig said the drug-free status of a province can be lifted whenever there are arrests and drug-related activities monitored in the area.