Other LGUs should follow San Miguel’s way
posted 28-Oct-2019  ·  
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Just over a year ago, in July 2018, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported that 237 out of the total 315 barangays on the island were considered as “drug-affected.”

These 238 villages were broken down by municipality, as follows: Bagamanoc, 13 (72%); Baras, 21 (72%); Bato, 17 (63%); Caramoran, 20 (74%); Gigmoto, 9 (100%); Pandan, 18 (69%); Panganiban, 21 (91%); San Andres, 31 (81%); San Miguel, 18 (75%); Viga, 21 (67%); and, Virac, 48 (76%).

Thirteen months later, it is remarkable that San Miguel has been declared drug-cleared, the first among 11 towns of Catanduanes to achieve the status and just the fourth in the entire Bicol region.

To wipe out illegal drugs in each of the 18 previously drug-affected barangays (the other six barangays are considered not affected) within a year is not a small feat for a town which, like many other fifth-class municipalities here, do not have enough resources necessary for its development.

For a drug-affected barangay to be declared “drug-cleared” pursuant to Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Resolution No. 3, it has to achieve 14 parameters, foremost of which is the non-availability of drug supply.

There must an absence of drug transit/transshipment facility, clandestine drug laboratory, clandestine chemical warehouse, marijuana cultivation site, drug den, dive or resort; and an inventory should prove that there is no longer a drug pusher, drug user/dependent, and protector/coddler and financier within its territorial jurisdiction.

Aside from the active involvement of barangay officials in anti-drug activities, particularly through a functioning Anti-Drug Abuse Council (ADAC), the Sangguniang Kabataan has to be actively involved in helping maintain the drug-liberated status of the barangay.

Likewise, there must be existing programs on drug awareness, preventive education and information as well as an existing voluntary and compulsory drug-treatment and rehabilitation processing desk.

Such a coveted status in the anti-drug campaign has to be validated by the Regional Oversight Committee every quarter.

If the validation turns up a credible report on the presence of a drug personality in the village, the Barangay ADAC will be directed to visit the suspect and convince him/her to surrender and be subjected to intervention. If the suspect refuses, he/she is then subjected to an anti-drug operation.

Failure to do so within a 30-day period will result in the revocation of the drug-free status and the non-compliance with the oversight committee’s directive will be considered a ground for possible administrative and criminal cases against concerned barangay officials.

As Mayor Francisco Camano Jr. said during the launching of the Balay Silangan reformation facility in San Miguel, banishing the illegal drug scourge in the villages is a tough job, one that requires strict monitoring of the activities of the barangay leaders and the cooperation of their constituents.

That the town was able to be certified by PDEA and the regional oversight committee as “drug-cleared” is testament to the current administration’s commitment and determination to eliminate illegal drugs within its borders.

This sterling accomplishment also proves that the interagency effort is working as seen through the Community-Based Treatment & Rehabilitation Program (CBTRP) Core Team, which in this case successfully hurdled the obstacles of time constraint, numerous job responsibilities and lack of funding.

Using their creativity and imagination, the core team came up with the Balay Silangan facility right at the back of the Patio de San Miguel covered court and just a stone’s throw from the police station, and with the needed infrastructures available in accordance with the DDB requirements.

San Miguel’s success in the anti-drug campaign, as well as its bid to maintain the status, should encourage other local chief executives to follow Camano’s path.

As the land-locked town has shown, the other 10 municipalities have no more reason to say that it cannot be done and should therefore redouble their own efforts or face the consequences.

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