MAGANES: Bravo Governor Pogi for convening PADAC!
In my previous article in this column, I chided Governor Amado “Pogi” I. Espino III for being too silent on the issues of illegal drugs in Pangasinan after President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte launched an all out war against it in the whole country.
Even in my radio program aired over DWPR Radyo Asenso, I also chided Governor Pogi for just commenting “unusual” on the spate of killings of drug pushers and users and the surrender of more than 7,000 to the Philippine National Police (PNP) authorities throughout the province. I thought he will not lift his finger on the issue. Methinks, his anti-drug abuse stance was just a part of his political agenda for the May 9 elections, which he won handily. I also asked where the anti-drug abuse councils are in the province particularly the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PADAC), which I think was dormant and has not mapped out any anti-drug abuse plans and programs.
All my chiding towards Governor Pogi ended last July 28 when he convened the first PADAC coordinating conference held at the Ceremonial Hall at Urduja House in Lingayen, which was attended by the members of the anti-drug abuse council and officials from the province’s PNP. The said council was briefed by OIC PNP Provincial Director Ronald Oliver Lee on the status of the agency’s Project:Double Barrel on anti-drug abuse that uses two-pronged strategies- Project Tokhang (knock and plead) referred to as the “lower barrel” and Project HVT referred to as the “upper barrel”.
Project Tokhang has five stages-collection and validation of information, coordination, house-to-house visitations, processing and visitationn, and monitoring and evaluation.
On the other hand, Project HVT is a massive and reinvigorated conduct of operations targeting illegal drugs personalities and syndicates.
PNP Provincial Chief Lee reported that from July 1 to July 25, his agency conducted 4,921 house visitations throughout the province and the surrender of 7,578 self-confessed users of which 276 are drug pushers. Of their 172 anti-drug operations, an aggregate of 203.5263 grams of “shabu” with a street value of more than P1.3 million were confiscated from July 1 to July 23.
What do these statistics mean to Governor Pogi?
Espino did not take the figures lightly. The figures are indeed unusual and alarming and he expressed deep concerns particularly on the number of surrenderees that grew from 250 to more than 7,000 individuals. Espino said he was surprised saying the provincial government is now “threading an unchartered territory but has to start somewhere.”
After the PADAC meeting, where will the provincial government go to support the war of President Duterte against illegal drugs? Espino is now keen on rehabilitating the surrenderees, which are increasing each day.
He said he is now arranging with the management of Camp Tito Abat in Manaoag town as the possible site to house the surrenderees until the rehabilitation center in Burgos town will be constructed. This is in consonance with President Duterte’s pronouncement during his SONA that military camps all over the country will be used as rehabilitation centers for drug users and pushers. Camp Tito Abat’s 40-hectare land area is an ideal site for the rehabilitation of drug dependents and the 600 army reservists could be tapped to complement personnel for the province’s drug rehabilitation program.
Prior to the PADAC’s meeting, Espino also signed an Executive Order on July 27 for the “mandatory random drug-testing” of some 5,000 provincial government”s employees. He said that he and Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Z. Calimlim Jr., also the executive director of PADAC, will undergo drug testing to convince the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) to follow suit.
Espino also called the attention of the SP to enact an ordinance institutionalizing the “mandatory random drug-testing down to the barangay level.
What is the take of Governor Pogi on the alleged extra judicial killings of drug users and pushers?
Governor Pogi has expressed his sympathy to the families of the victims and said ” he will coordinate with concerned agencies to look after the cases.”
What I have been itching to hear from Governor Pogi regarding the anti-drug abuse campaign of the government has been partially answered. While I laud his efforts for convening the PADAC and drew out initial solutions to the problems at hand, I will be looking forward that his plans will be put into fruition in the coming days. We can not be complacent as of the moment. We await the concrete actions coming from the provincial government.
As of the moment, all I could say is Bravo! Congratulations Governor Pogi.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Listen to my radio program “VIRGIL MAGANES SA DWPR” aired over DWPR Radyo Asenso, 1296 KHZ AM Band at 8:00-9:00 AM, Mondays to Saturdays.)
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