MANILA -- At least 5,000 barangays across the country have been declared drug-free, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported in the monthly update on "#RealNumbers".

The agency said 5,072 of the 42,036 barangays were cleared of drugs as of December 27.

"These barangays have reached drug-cleared status after issuance of a certification by members of the Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug-Clearing Program,” said PDEA Director Gen. Aaron Aquino.

The oversight committee, which is chaired by PDEA, is composed of provincial representatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Health (DOH) and local government units (LGUs).

"Before declaring that a barangay is free from illegal drug activities, the committee must convene and validate the non-availability of drug supply in the area and the absence of drug transit activity, clandestine drug laboratory and chemical warehouse, marijuana cultivation site, drug den, drug pusher, and user," said Aquino.

The declaration is pursuant to the parameters set forth by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) as provided in Section 8 of DDB Board Regulation No. 3 Series of 2017, otherwise known as “Strengthening the Implementation of the Barangay Drug-Clearing Program”.

A barangay is said to be drug-affected when there is a reported presence of drug users, pushers, manufacturers, marijuana cultivators and other infrastructure related to the illegal narcotics.

There are three basic parameters in determining barangay drug-affectation: slightly affected, moderately affected, and seriously affected.

Barangays are considered slightly affected if there is a reported presence of drug user/s; moderately affected if there is a reported presence of drug pusher/s and/or user/s; and seriously affected if there is a reported presence of any of the following: clandestine drug laboratory, warehouse, marijuana plantation and drug den/tiangge, drug trafficking or smuggling activities, and drug personalities.

Last June, Batanes earned the distinction of being the country’s first province to be declared drug-free.

On Dec. 4, Tacloban City was also declared drug-free after having met the DDB requirements.

In its monthly update called "#RealNumbers", Aquino said from July 2016 up to Dec. 27 this year, 170 drug dens and nine clandestine shabu laboratories were dismantled while different kinds of illegal drugs were seized amounting to PHP19.11 billion.

PDEA said authorities also arrested 119,023 individuals involved in illegal drugs from July 2016 to December 27.

Included in the total figure are 444 government workers -- 188 of them elected officials, 44 uniformed personnel, and 212 government employees.

About 80,683 anti-illegal drug operations were conducted by joint law enforcement agencies during the period.

As of Dec. 27, the consolidated report showed that 3,968 drug suspects died, 86 were killed and 226 were wounded in anti-drug operations.

Agencies helping the PDEA in the anti-illegal drug operations are the PNP, DILG, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Bureau of Customs (BOC), among others.

The joint law enforcement agencies rescued 589 minors during the anti-illegal drug operations from July 2016 to Dec. 27 this year.

According to the Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD), the rescued minors, after court proceedings, will be turned over to the Bahay Pagasa centers of LGUs within eight hours of police custody, before turning them over to the DSWD centers to undergo counseling to aid in reforming them back to society.

Since they are minors, the DSWD said they would not be put behind bars together with hardened criminals. (PNA)