TACLOBAN CITY – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has listed 839 drug affected barangays in the region, representing 19 percent of the region’s total number of villages.
About 361 villages with drug menace are in Leyte, 219 in Southern Leyte, 75 in Samar, 74 in Eastern Samar, 59 in Northern Samar, and 51 in Biliran.
The region has 4,390 villages from its six provinces.
In a report to the Regional Development Council, PDEA Eastern Visayas Regional Director Edgar Jubay said 830 villages are slightly affected, nine are moderately affected, and no single area is seriously affected.
Citing their official list, Jubay said illegal drugs distribution is being carried out by 3,101 pushers, 65 financiers, and 25 traffickers in the region.
Based on their list, there are 2,069 drug users, way below than the nearly 17,000 self-confessed drug dependents who surrendered to the Philippine National Police.
While drug trade has been minimized due to President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug war, PDEA said that illicit activities continue in some areas with the involvement of some government officials, modus operandi, and use of new technology.
“One challenge is the capability of high-profile drug personalities to continue their illegal drug trade using new technology such as digital wire transfers of through banks without having to expose themselves physically, thus hampering operatives from arresting them,” Jubay explained.
Modus operandi of drug traders include use of minors to peddle drugs, use of commercial courier services, use of some jail facilities as temporary stock and releasing areas, transacting inside hotels, wrapping drugs with improvised packages, placing drugs inside drinking straws, placing under soft drink bottle, and use of cockfighting chickens as concealment strategy in transporting drugs.
Identified by PDEA in the region’s drug trafficking route are Matnog port in Sorsogon, Allen and San Isidro port in Northern Samar, San Ricardo and Liloan port in Southern Leyte, Ormoc City port in western Leyte, and other small public and private ports throughout Region 8.
Jubay is optimistic that impact of anti-drug war will be felt in affected communities in the next few months.
Law enforcement agencies arrested 695 drug personalities as of Aug. 21 or 54 percent up than the 451 arrested persons in the same period last year.
A total of 13,912.435 grams of shabu have been seized in various operations from January to Aug. 21 this year, way high compared to the 1,523.593 grams recovered in the entire 2015.