Slowdown noted in anti-drug programs
posted 1-Jul-2019  ·  
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Members of the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PADAC) last week discussed possible actions to inject new vigor into two key components of the anti-illegal drug campaign reported to be slowing down as far as accomplishments are concerned.

In its meeting held jointly with the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) last June 18 at the provincial capitol, the PADAC took notice of the report of Catanduanes police provincial director Col. Paul Abay that of the 315 barangays in the province, 237 remain affected by illegal drugs.

Only 26 have been previously cleared, all in 2018: Quezon in Bagamanoc; San Lorenzo and Salvacion in Baras; Mabini in Caramoran; Dororian in Gigmoto; San Andres in Pandan; Sta. Cruz, Rizal, Yocti, Carangag, and Puting-Baybay in San Andres; Magsaysay, Sagrada and San Pedro in Viga; and, Magnesia del Norte, Balite, Pajo Baguio, and F. Tacorda Village, all in Virac.

Another 12 are certified drug-free: Sto. Cristo, Hawan Grande, Hawan Ilaya, Calabnigan, Casoocan, Batag, Marilima, Calampong, Talisoy, Cabihian, and Buenavista, all in Virac; and, Osmeña in Baras.

PD Abay reported that nine more villages are being endorsed by the Provincial Oversight Committee (POC) to the Regional Oversight Committee (ROC) for drug-cleared certification: Genitligan and Rizal in Baras; Mintay in Bato; Salvacion in Panganiban; Tominawog and Palawig in San Andres; Igang in Virac; and two more in San Miguel town that was not named in the report.

Twenty seven (27) more villages are set to be endorsed to the POC and ROC for certification as drug-free, he added.

On the police’s anti-illegal drug campaign, updated data gathered by the Catanduanes PNP showed that from the 2,048 surrendered drug users and pushers in the last six months of 2016, the number dropped to just 53 in 2017 as well as two each for 2018 and the first three months of 2019.

Of the total number of 2,105 surrendered drug users, only 714 have completed the Community-Based Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Program (CBTRP) while 570 are still enrolled.

Dir. Abay said that screening of the SDUs and Persons Who Used Drugs (PWUDs) is too slow while those who “graduate” do not proceed to the after-care program.

“Sayang ang effort, bumabalik na sa dati ‘yung iba,” he stated, pointing out that the problem lies at the Rural Health Units (RHUs) which schedules the screening.

The local police can help fetch the SDUs and PWUDs “pero ayaw gumalaw ng RHU,” the province’s top cop disclosed.

On the other hand, Provincial Health Officer II Dr. Hazel Palmes urged barangays to report if the SDUs are no longer residing in the barangay so they can be stricken off the list. She also asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) provincial office if they can provide updates on the ongoing intervention.

DILG provincial director Uldarico Razal Jr. said the ADACs should monitor the CBTRP process as some councils at the municipal and barangay levels have low accomplishments, stressing that each council’s performance is one of the basis of the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) awards.

“Hindi na kaya ng doctor namin ‘yung trabaho, loaded sila dahil maraming training and seminar,” San Miguel Mayor Francisco Camano Jr. commented.

But Virac’s chief executive, Samuel Laynes, replied that the council should accept the problem with regards to protocol between the RHU and the three DOH-authorized doctors in assessing SDUs.

Dr. Palmes also noted that her office invited all rural health physicians to attend the drug screening workshop but only one, the San Miguel doctor, attended the activity conducted by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Administration (PDEA) and the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).

She wondered if the LGUs can fund additional allowances for rural health doctors for the extra work they do as suggested by Panganiban Mayor Robert Fernandez.

The problem, Palmes stressed, is that these rural doctors have many things to do and these, as well as conflicting schedules, make it difficult for them to balance the need to manage drug cases and promote health programs at the same time.

The PADAC acting chair, Acting Gov. Shirley Abundo urged the mayors to activate the barangay ADACs, a suggestion echoed by DILG’s Razal who said that the latter should address the different issued in the field.

“It’s just a matter of coordination and time management that would hopefully, by the end of the year, resolve the very slow drug clearing process by doing things on double time,” he said.

On the other hand, the council considered the removal of the Regional Trial Court as member of the CBTRP as Executive Judge Genie Gapas-Agbada does not like its being involved in the program.

It agreed to review the executive order creating the CBTRP with regards to the Court’s involvement and the suggestion to consider moderate drug users only as far as the requirement for those undergoing treatment to be committed through an order of the Court.

Also present during the joint PPOC-PADAC meeting were Mayor Agnes Popa of Caramoran, Mayor Emeterio Tarin of Viga, and agency heads and representatives from the Philippine Army, DTI, DPWH, Napolcom, DepEd, and other agencies.

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