pdea-logoTACLOBAN CITY, Dec. 22 (PNA) — Six months after the central government stepped up its anti-drug war, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported that 19 percent of 4,390 villages in Eastern Visayas remained affected by the drug menace.

While illegal drugs trade has been neutralized in identified areas, the impact is still there, but it’s less alarming than before, according to Alex Tablate, PDEA Eastern Visayas operations division chief.

“We have three categories for the drug affectation of villages – slightly affected, moderately affected, and seriously affected. We’re shocked that there were drug personalities who surrendered from those villages categorized as unaffected,” Tablate explained.

Southern Leyte province has the most number of affected villages at 350, followed by Leyte (218), Western Samar (73), Eastern Samar (66), Northern Samar (63), and Biliran (46).

Shabu and marijuana dried leaves are the most common types of illicit drugs of choice in the region as found in series of anti-drug operations.

The war against drugs has significantly decreased its supply, hence raising shabu’s per gram price to PHP4,000 to PHP8,000. Street value of marijuana is pegged at PHP250 per gram or nearly double than its old price.

“The use of minors in illegal drug trade as couriers has been the usual strategy of drug personalities mainly because of the weak criminal liability of minors,” Tablate confirmed.

Shipment services are also used as couriers of illegal drugs. Some transactions also include the use of some jail facilities as temporary stock or releasing area.

These illegal drugs are also being wrapped with candy wrappers and other improvised packaging to evade detections. Some are even placed inside a drinking straw sealed at both ends and under soft drink bottle caps. (PNA) Maria Eden Mae T. Terceño