ILOILO CITY - Western Visayas ranks 16 out of the 17 regions in the country in terms of drug affectation, which shows that it is among the regions with the least number of drug-affected barangays, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general Arturo Cacdac Jr. said yesterday.
Metro Manila ranked number one with 98 percent of its barangays affected by drugs, followed by Cebu and Davao, with 33 percent of their barangays affected, Cacdac said during the blessing and inauguration of the PDEA's state-of-the-art Forensic Laboratory in Iloilo yesterday.
Only 9 percent or 390 out of the 4,000 barangays in Western Visayas are drug affected, he said.
However, he said they should not be complacent, as drug syndicates do not rest. They should therefore try to recover drug-affected barangays to prevent the number from increasing.
Cacdac also pointed out that the conviction rate in Western Visayas is also very high and attributed this to the cooperation of members of the criminal justice system, law enforcement agency, and the prosecution with the support of the community.
The conviction rate in Western Visayas is 46 percent, compared to the national average which is only 30 percent, he said.
Cacdac said he targets the establishment of crime laboratories in all 17 regions in the country, that will be vital in investigative service and in helping their agents hasten the filing of cases.
Acting PDEA regional director Ronie Delicana said the PDEA forensic laboratory in Iloilo is equipped with a Gas Chromaograph Mass Spectometer or GCSM and the total costs of their equipment could run to more than P10 million.
In case of brown-outs, the laboratory is equipped with a manual chromatography system.
Cacdac said they have provided Iloilo, Cebu, La Union and Davao with GCSM's, that cost P8 million each, bought by former PDEA director Jose Gutierrez Jr., who saw the need for PDEA to have its own crime laboratory so it will not rely on the Philippine National Police for chemical analysis.
This is their reward to the PNP for having done purity testing for them for 10 years since PDEA was established in 2002, he said.
Cacdac said that in the last 10 years, they only had one crime laboratory and that is at their headquarters.
Meanwhile, he asked the police to concentrate on low value targets, like the clearing of drug affected barangays, to help PDEA concentrate on high value ones, like marijuana plantations or shabu laboratories.
Cacdac also appealed to the local government units in Western Visayas to activate their Anti-Drug Abuse Council that is mandated by law to clear drug-affected barangays.
He said they have also set aside a certain amount from their intelligence fund every month so they could provide cash incentives or rewards to assets who help them recover illegal substance or drugs during their anniversary in July.
A former Deputy Chief of the Philippine National Police for Administration, Cacdac also conducted a seminar on clearing operations involving the police in Iloilo yesterday.
Present at the inauguration of the PDEA Forensic Laboratory were Interior and Local Government regional director Evelyn Trompeta, Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas, representatives of the city, the PNP and several judges.*CGS