Cebu ‘tops in drug use’

GOV. Hilario Davide III was alarmed by President Rodrigo Duterte's revelation that Cebu has the highest drug rate in the country.

In his speech before the 10th Philippine Councilors’ League in Pasay City last Wednesday, Duterte said Cebu’s illegal drug rate has reached close to 70 percent.

Davide told reporters that he wants to know where the President got his figures.

“I cannot also say for certain if his (Duterte) figures are correct. I don’t know who fed the President that data,” he said.

But Davide said that Cebu’s illegal drug situation is attributed to its strategic location as an entry point for cargo towards other parts of the country.

Based on a report provided by the Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Office (CPADAO), more than 80 percent of barangays in the province are affected by illegal drugs.

At least 396 barangays in the province are moderately affected, 641 are slightly affected and 24 are unaffected.

Of the 1,066 barangays in the province, only 128 have been declared as "drug cleared" by the CPADAO and the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO).

But these 128 “drug-cleared villages” still need to be validated by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The governor said local government units in Cebu have taken steps to minimize the illegal drug trade through constant operations conducted by police and other law-enforcement agencies.

Davide also believes that there are other areas in the country that are worse off.

The governor was not the only local official, who was caught off guard by Duterte's recent revelation. PDEA 7 Director Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz said he was also alarmed.

Ruiz said the President may have received the information before his administration declared war on illegal drugs last year.

Ruiz said that there are still illegal drugs in Cebu because it is a transhipment point of drug syndicates, but the supply has dropped in the past eight months.

A five-gram pack of shabu used to cost P6,000, but it now costs P13,000.

After he took office as the director of Police Regional Office 7 last July, Chief Supt. Noli Taliño said illegal drugs affected 97 percent of the province's 1,066 barangays; 100 percent of Cebu City's 80 barangays; and nearly 100 percent of the barangays of Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Bohol and Siquijor.

Oplan Tokhang in the region led to the surrender of more than 105,000 users and pushers.

Police also arrested over 5,000 drug personalities in the last eight months.

Ruiz, for his part, denied that there are shabu laboratories in the region.

He received reports about shabu factories thrice, but these turned out to be false.

“The President has more information on hand than us,” said Ruiz. “We know the President, if he gives a statement, he has information to support his statement. It is a challenge for us to double our efforts. Not just double, but triple our efforts.”

PDEA, he said, needs to secure airports and seaports and prevent the entry of contraband.

The official asked mayors and barangay officials to cooperate with them.

He will ask also for more logistics and personnel.
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