Anti-Drug Efforts Gain ‘Positive’ Results

DAVAO ORIENTAL – Efforts in the fight against illegal drugs is making progress here as the Provincial Government doubles its efforts to address one of the society’s chronic ills.

Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, during the kick-off ceremony of the Drug Abuse Prevention Week on Monday, congratulated the collective efforts of the Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PADAC) together with other government agencies for the province’s “modest” milestones in the effort to rid communities of illegal drugs.

Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang

Of the 183 drug-affected barangays, 101 have been declared as “drug-cleared” by the Provincial and Regional Oversight Committee. Six towns, namely San Isidro, Lupon, Banaybanay, Tarragona, Manay, and Cateel have also been declared as drug-cleared – making Davao Oriental the province with the highest number of villages and towns declared as drug-cleared in the entire region.

Provincial Administrator and PADAC Officer Art Benjie Bulaong, however, clarified the difference between drug-cleared and drug-free. Citing the Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation no. 3, he said barangays can be declared as cleared from drugs for as long as drug dependents are already enrolled to the Community-Based Rehabilitation and After Care Program (CBRAP). Other parameters that should also be present for the declaration are the proper profiling and monitoring of drug reformists.

Being “drug-free”, on the other hand, which is the total eradication of drugs from an area is entirely different story. “Although there is a world of difference between the two, the Provincial Government will persistently continue the aggressive campaign against drugs in order to protect the health and well-being of communities,” he said.

Davao Oriental Provincial Police Office Provincial Director PSSUPT Harry Espela

Davao Oriental Provincial Police Office Provincial Director PSSUPT Harry Espela said police forces are beefing up intelligence efforts and support to partner agencies especially the PDEA to capture personalities behind the illegal drug trade. “A lot of efforts have already been made and we don’t want those efforts to go down the drain,” he said, stressing that they will continue to do their mandate in the campaign against drugs.

DILG Provincial Director Yvette T. Sunga

While authorities admit that the total elimination of drugs is a huge challenge – as it is anywhere, the Provincial Government and its partners are pleased of the outcomes, making them more determined to address the province’s drug problems through various local programs.

REHABILITATION

Over a course of less than a year, a total of 8,686 drug reformists in the province have surrendered to the authorities and have been subjected to the CBRAP, locally known here as Lihok NLD (Nagkakaisang Lumulupyo Kontra Droga).

CBRAP is a special program initiated by Governor Dayanghirang which envisions a drug-free Davao Oriental by creating an enabling environment for a drug-free province.

Touting convergence and holistic interventions as the program’s hallmarks, various government agencies offer their services that would help drug reformist in their rehabilitation in the community setting. Under the program, intensified provision of rehabilitation, social intervention, and reintegration programs along with aggressive advocacy campaigns that will eventually motivate the people to say no to illegal drugs are being provided to assist those drug reformists who seek help in rebuilding their lives.

A comprehensive program for pursuing a drug-free province, the Lihok NLD is fostering community dialogues, encouraging among the community members a sense of ownership of the program. It is also pursuing principled partnerships with the people’s organizations, non-government organizations, churches from different religions, local government units, government agencies and many other sectors who know how to reach out to the constituents and win their cooperation and trust.

Young performers in a dance production during kick-off ceremony of the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week

Governor Dayanghirang says that aside from complementing the relentless law enforcement operations, the local anti-drug interventions are bent to reduce, if not eliminate, the illegal drug supply and suppress its demand to put an end to widespread illicit drug trafficking in the province.

Through the Lihok NLD Program, the local anti-drug abuse councils in ten municipalities and one city in the province are being actively organized by the mayors. The PADAC capacitates the local anti-drug abuse councils through training of service providers, orientation on community-based rehabilitation and after-care program, drug-clearing, training and workshops on the conduct of drug testing, screening and assessment, logistical support and monitoring.

ADVOCACY

Meanwhile, to drum-up the Provincial Government’s campaign against drugs, a series of activities was held here as the province joined the national government in the observance of the Drug Abuse Prevention Week. Starting with a grand kick-off ceremony on Monday, the week’s highlight activities included a motorcade, Zumba and fun run, drug prevention and control symposium in several high schools, spoken poetry contest, and inspirational talks during the culmination program.

Zumba at the Mati Park and Baywalk

Making the advocacy campaign easier to reach the ordinary masses, especially the youth, the PADAC introduced “Gov Boy” – the official mascot of the province’s anti-drug campaign. Modeled on Governor Dayanghirang, the “adorable and charming”, six feet tall mascot is sweeping away students and ordinary people as he visits schools and villages for the Lihok NLD’s anti-drugs advocacy campaign. The campaign’s official jingle was also launched, giving hype to the movement against drugs.

Amidst the Provincial Government’s intensified efforts in the drug-clearing operation, it vows to also strengthen its anti-drug advocacy campaign that will open the minds of the community about the ill-effects of drugs to the society.  

However, while the anti-drugs campaign is continuously being pushed, the Province enjoins the community’s active participation as the fight against drugs is not only the obligation of the government but a collective responsibility of all stakeholders and society. By Karen Lou Deloso (with report from Ferdinand Zuasola)/Photo by Eden Jhan Licayan

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