MANILA -- A total of 17,816 barangays or 38 percent out of the 42,045 barangays (villages) in the country have been declared drug-cleared, a ranking police official said on Monday.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, Philippine National Police deputy chief for Operations, said that before the Duterte administration, the total number of drug-infected barangays was 33,869 which represent 81 percent of the total 42,045 barangays of the Philippines.
"After 43 months, a total of 17,816 barangays were cleared which brought down the infected barangays from 81 percent to 38 percent," Eleazar said.
He attributed the big decrease in the barangays affected by illegal drugs to the aggressive campaign launched in 2016.
Eleazar said police are working double-time to clear the remaining barangays from illegal drugs.
He bared the barangays were cleared in Bataan and Aurora, two provinces that were officially declared as drug-free in a ceremony last Saturday.
The good practices employed by the government's anti-narcotics agents will be replicated in other areas still affected by illegal drugs, he said.
Eleazar also said at least eight provinces were cleared of illegal drugs.
Aside from Bataan and Aurora, also cleared were Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Sur, Mountain Province, Quirino, and Biliran.
"If there will be a resurgence of drug activities in their areas and no appropriate interventions were done in a month’s time, their status might be reverted to affected communities," Eleazar said.
Eleazar said that the positive impacts of the campaign against illegal drugs on the eight provinces disprove claims by critics that the government is losing the campaign.
He said the campaign against illegal drugs has improved the peace and order situation in the country since July 2016.
Citing PNP data, Eleazar disclosed that the crime incidents across the country in the first three-and-a-half years of the Duterte administration was reduced by 64 percent using the same period of the last years of the past administration.
“Had it not for the drug war, we would have not reduced the crime incidents by 64 percent in the first 3 ½ years of this administration compared with the last 3 ½ years of the last administration because we subscribed to our belief that most of the crimes are connected to illegal drugs use,” he added. (PNA)