LINGAYEN -- Pangasinan police said the drug clearances they has issued for five towns of the province are still on hold pending validation by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Provincial police director, Senior Superintendent Ronald Oliver Lee, said this means only two towns, so far, have officially been cleared in Pangasinan, based on the new guidelines of the war on illegal hard drug trafficking.
Lee said they earlier declared seven towns in Pangasinan as drug-free but based on the new guidelines, only Sto. Tomas and Laoac have qualified.
Those previously declared by the police as drug-free but have yet to be validated by the PDEA are Natividad, San Nicolas, Alaminos City, Bolinao and Agno.
"These towns, including their respective barangays as well as the barangays of the others that were previously declared drug-free, are all under validation. After validation, we will declare them drug-free," Lee told newsmen.
He said no time frame was given to them to clear all the towns and cities in Pangasinan but as much as possible, "we should clear them all at least within the year."
Lee added that the war on hard drug trafficking suffered a snag when the police stopped their operations against illegal drugs because many drug personalities returned to their illegal activities after surrendering.
Most of them, however, were already arrested during the early stages of Project Double Barrel Reloaded because while the police stopped their operations against illegal drugs, they continued monitoring those who went back to their illegal activities, he said.
"If you will notice, many or most of those we are now arresting are newly emerged drug personalities because the old faces in the drug trade were already arrested by us," he added.
Asked how many more high-value targets (HVTs) have yet to be arrested, Lee said only three more and not one of them is an elected official.
He said they are applying for warrants to search the houses of the three HVTs, as they did to previous HVTs they have arrested, among them barangay chairmen.
Meanwhile, Lee noted that as the newly appointed Pangasinan Police director, he will continue the re-intensified campaign against illegal drugs and criminality.
He said the Pangasinan Police will continue to conduct aggressive operations against criminals and those who violate the law. (PNA)