PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) have joined hands to implement a program that aims to discourage farmers in the country from planting marijuana.

PDEA officials have coordinated with local government units (LGUs) in Davao Region on the Alternative Development Program.

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"We have been discussing this program to all barangay officials. Our participation here is to identify the area as beneficiary of this livelihood program," PDEA regional director Police Superintendent Roybel Sanchez said in an interview with Sun.Star Superbalita.

PDEA is assisting DDB, which is tasked to stop farmers from planting marijuana.

"Kailangan bigyan ng gobyerno ang mga farmers ng livelihood program para hindi na sila magtanim ng marijuana kaya may alternative development program ngayon ang Dangerous Drugs Broad," Sanchez said.

DDB vice chair Undersecretary Paul Oamisnal earlier said the program has been started in Kibungan, Kapangan and Bakun in Benguet province.

In Mindanao, the municipality of San Fernando in Bukidnon has received a P2 million grant last year to plant abaca.

San Fernando is adjacent to Cabanglasan where P21 million worth of marijuana plants were uprooted last month by members of the PDEA, Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Oaminal earlier said farmers in the area who used to plant marijuana are now growing abaca with the help of the Fiber Industry Development Authority.

Other areas that will also be receiving grants are Kiblawan and Malita in Davao del Sur.

"We are considering the farmers of Kiblawan and Malita to be the beneficiaries of this program because we want them to plant abaca instead of marijuana," Sanchez said.

Both officials believe that with the supply reduction programs like arrests and raids in plantations, along with the alternative program, will eventually discourage farmers from planting marijuana.

PDEA officials, police and military have arrested 264 men involved in illegal drugs last year.

"We were able to confiscate 86.90 grams of shabu, and we conducted 344 lectures, 258 film showing and 56 photo exhibits in different schools in the region," PDEA Information Officer III Noli Dimaandal told Sun.Star Superbalita. (AD)