DRUG-CLEARED. Officials of drug-cleared barangays in Laoag City take a photo opportunity after the declaration by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). Other barangays in the city are still being validated on their drug status. (Photo courtesy of PDEA-Ilocos Norte)

LAOAG CITY – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Monday declared 29 out of the 80 villages here as drug-cleared.

These urban and rural villages are Barangays 11 (Sta. Balbina); 13 (Nuestra Señora De Visitacion); 15 (San Guillermo); 16 (San Jacinto),18 (San Quirino); 26 (San Marcelino); 27 (Nuestra Señora de Soledad); 3 (Nuestra Señora Del Rosario); 30-A (Suyo); 30-B (Santa Maria); 31 (Talingaan); 32-B (La Paz West); 33-A (La Paz Proper); 33-B (La Paz Proper); 34-A (Gabu Norte West); 34-B (Gabu Norte East); 35 (Gabu Sur); 37 (Calayab); 39 (Sta. Rosa); 4 (San Guillermo); 41 (Balacad); 51-A (Nangalisan East); 51-B (Nagalisan West); 52-A (San Mateo); 52- B (Lataag); 55- B (Salet- Bulangon); 60-B (Malidalig); 61 (Cataban) and 62-A (Navotas North).

Lovie Agunat, intelligence officer of the PDEA based in the province said in an interview that even with the awarding of certifications to the drug-cleared areas, the city, village officials and local authorities concerned still need to sustain anti-drug advocacy activities and the establishment of Balay Silangan.

The processing of the remaining 45 drug-affected barangays including six others with pending drug-cleared status is still ongoing, Agunat noted.

As the lead agency in the drug clearing operation, PDEA said the provincial oversight committee composed of PDEA, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Department of Health and the local government unit concerned, conducts a thorough evaluation on the drug-affected barangays and must comply with all the set requirements before they can be declared as “cleared”.

Once declared as drug-free, the names of persons who used drugs will be automatically scrapped from the list of drug surrenderers. Before that, each drug surrenderer has to undergo a series of medical tests, including physical and moral recovery enhancement, spiritual health education, psychosocial counseling and drug education.

To be declared as drug-cleared by PDEA, a municipality or city has to establish a Bahay Silangan to facilitate the reformation of drug offenders.

In this city, a Bahay Silangan was approved last December to be established at the former city library located near the School’s Division of Laoag. The site shall serve as a temporary shelter for drug surrenderers and plea bargainers. (PNA)