PDEA 7 ramps up anti-drug measures amid surge in drug seizures, new personalities

CEBU. Leia Alcantara (center), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Central Visayas information officer, answers questions during an episode of SunStar's Beyond the Headlines on March 7, 2024.
CEBU. Leia Alcantara (center), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Central Visayas information officer, answers questions during an episode of SunStar's Beyond the Headlines on March 7, 2024. Photo by Jay Adobo, BiPSU intern

THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA 7) reported a surge in drug seizures in the region, coupled with the emergence of new drug personalities, intensifying efforts by law enforcement to curb the proliferation of illegal drugs.

In a March 7, 2024 Facebook live session of SunStar’s Beyond the Headlines, Leia Alcantara, PDEA 7 information officer, said that in just a span of two months, from January to February 2024, around 48 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) were confiscated.

This increase in seizures serves as a stark indicator of the persistent threat posed by drug trafficking in Central Visayas, Alcantara said.

To mitigate the rise of new drug personalities, PDEA 7 has devised strategic approaches, primarily focusing on financial investigations and surveillance.

By investigating individuals suspected of involvement in money laundering and examining their bank statements, authorities aim to identify and apprehend potential drug traffickers before they can establish a foothold in the region.

Alcantara said "Central Visayas' anti-drug efforts are supported by dedicated teams assigned to each operation," ensuring a coordinated and systematic approach to law enforcement activities.

In addition to enforcement measures, PDEA 7 has implemented comprehensive strategies aimed at reducing both the demand for and supply of illegal drugs.

The Community-Based Drug Rehabilitation Program (CBDRP), administered by local government units (LGUs), in accordance with Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation 4 Series of 2021, offers tailored interventions for drug users at various levels of severity.

Under this program, low-risk users may undergo a month-long General Intervention (GI), while those with more severe dependencies undergo a more extensive six-month CBDRP.

Participation in these programs, however, does not guarantee immunity from law enforcement actions, such as arrest. Even after completion, individuals remain subject to arrest if found in possession of illegal substances.

The Barangay Drug Clearing Program, also established under DDB Regulation 4 Series of 2021, aims to eradicate drug-related activities at the grassroots level.

To achieve drug-clear status, all known drug users within a barangay must successfully complete rehabilitation programs. Similarly, a barangay can attain drug-free status by demonstrating the absence of any drug-related cases.

Despite ongoing efforts, Central Visayas continues to grapple with drug-related challenges. Out of the region's 3,003 barangays, around 40.59 percent are still affected by drug-related cases, with 1,219 barangays still battling drug issues. Nonetheless, progress has been made, with 1,668 barangays cleared from drug-related concerns and 116 declared drug-free.

The pricing of illegal drugs further highlights the severity of the situation, with a gram of shabu commanding an average market value of P6,800.

As authorities in Central Visayas heighten their efforts to combat the spread of illegal drugs, collaborative initiatives between law enforcement and local communities remain essential in safeguarding the region against the detrimental effects of narcotics trafficking, Alcantara said. (Jay Adobo, BiPSU intern)


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