17 Zamboanga municipalities drug-free 

AT LEAST 17 municipalities in the Zamboanga Peninsula in southern Philippines are drug-free, according to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). 

In a statement on Tuesday, the agency said the Zamboanga City regional oversight committee had assessed 386 villages in the 17 municipalities and reported the absence of illegal drug activities there. 

Based on December 2022 data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Zamboanga City, 1,334 of 1,904 villages in the region have been cleared of illegal drugs, while 455 villages remained affected. 

Last week, DILG partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), along with the Department of Health (DoH), to bolster community-based drug rehabilitation programs nationwide.   

Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr. has said rehabilitation initiatives at the local government level are as crucial as police efforts to cut the supply of illegal drugs. 

Last year, he said the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign would remain “as intensive” as before, prioritizing the rule of law when conducting drug operations. 

“Beyond treatment, local government units and government agencies are also tasked to provide for recovery, support and reintegration of recovering drug users,” Mr. Abalos said at a livestreamed event with USAID and DoH on May 3. — John Victor D. Ordoñez