MAASIN CITY, April 19 (PIA)-- Southern Leyte, the province where President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was born, became the first in the Visayas and Mindanao areas to be confirmed as cleared on the proliferation of illegal drugs.
Nationwide, it was the third to have clinched that record, after Batanes and Romblon provinces, respectively.
"This is not the end of the fight. The fight continues,"Chief Supt. Roberto Badian, deputy regional director, said, reading from a prepared statement of Police Regional Office (PRO) 8 regional director, Chief Supt. Gilberto Cruz.
DRUG-CLEARED: Provincial officials led by Gov. Christopherson Yap receive the citation for a drug-cleared province.
The ceremony was held at the provincial coliseum in the capitol grounds on April 17 and was attended by provincial, municipal, city officials, as well as Punong Barangays from the 500-strong barangays of the province, and chiefs of police from various field stations.
Aaron Aquino, director-general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), echoed a similar message saying that "Today is the beginning of total commitment.The greater challenge is on maintaining the status as drug-cleared." Aquinowarned that if not properly managed, about one-half of the 500 barangays would be drug-affected again.
Aware that most of the audience were barangay captains, Aquino reminded everyone to "refrain from voting barangay leaders tainted with illegal drugs," in reference to the approaching barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls this coming May 14.
Aquino was the one who read the declaration for the province as drug-cleared, while his counterpart at the regional level, Edgar Jubay, did the same for the 18 municipalities and one city.
The document certifying Southern Leyte as a drug-free province.
Gov. Christopherson Yap, Vice Gov. Jessica Escano Pano, and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members received the citation from Aquino, while mayors or the heads of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) got theirs from Jubay.
In a follow-up interview by local and regional media after the event, Gov. Yap accepted the challenge of keeping the newly gained status for the long haul, saying he will continue to monitor actions at the barangay levels in close coordination with mayors, the police, other government agencies, and the general public.(JNPD/MMP/PIA8-Southern Leyte))
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