MAGANES: Declaring drug-free municipalities and cities, a boon or bane?

September 18, 2017 at 6:13 am Leave a comment


 vir maganesPangasinan Provincial Police Office (PPPO) has targeted that by December 31 this year, all municipalities and cities in the province would have been declared drug free. At present, there are one city and five municipalities that have been declared as drug free- Agno, Dasol, Laoac, San Nicolas, Sto. Tomas, and Alaminos City, out of 44 municipalities and four cities in the province. This means that the leadership of Philippine National Police (PNP) in Pangasinan will work doubly hard to attain its goal.

Under the Operation Double Barrel Reloaded- OPlan Tokhang and OPlan High Value Targets (HVT) on war against illegal drugs, there are more or less 20,000 drug users and pushers in Pangasinan who already surrendered to police authorities. These surrenderers were turned over to municipal/city governments for them to conduct Community Rehabilitation Program/Moral Recovery Program through their designated chaplains. The PNP monitors the development of the surrenderers through home visitations and follow ups whether they are attending the required sessions of the said program.

In declaring a municipality or city as drug free, the Municipal/City Drug and Abuse Councils will pass a resolution to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) that will in turn affirm that the municipality or city could already be declared drug free. This will be a tedious process for this needs proper evaluation, validation, which will lead to an issuance of certification by the PDEA. However, what is the guarantee that the drug surrenderers in villages (barangays) have not returned to their old habits of using drugs? What is the guarantee also that the declared municipalities and cities as drug free are already devoid of drug users, pushers and HVTs?

Lately, I was able to talk with a mayor in eastern Pangasinan to follow up the development of his Community Rehabilitation Program. I was surprised when he told me that some drug surrenderers were positively identified to have gone back to their vices when he ordered random drug testing among them. He asked, “How can we declare the town as drug free when many of them returned to their old vices? Where do their supplies come from?” I was taken aback by his questions. I also asked myself: “Where are we heading with this war against illegal drugs? What actions could really be taken  to stop it such that the surrenderers will not go back to their old vices? How about the already declared drug free municipalities and cities? Are these really drug- free?

The revelation of the mayor is an eye opener to the PDEA, PNP and local government units. While they are serious in their quest to stop the proliferation of illegal drugs, much have to be considered. Why not conduct a massive drug testing of the drug surrenderers? Why not review the modules being used by the designated chaplains? What other activities could be undertaken to fully rehabilitate the drug surrenderers?

The drug menace is here to stay. This does not end in the “tokhang” operations. While the local government units are addressing the spiritual needs of drug surrenderers for rehabilitation, how about their social and economic state? I have been writing about this in the past. The bottomline of illegal drugs is money. The drug pushers will always be there due to the financial gains they are receiving from the illegal drugs. Drug users, on the other hand, have already been hooked to their vices that they could not get away from the use of illegal drugs.

It’s saddening to note that the war against illegal drugs have already claimed many lives. Many of them as they say were killed in legitimate police operations. However, many of those who died were innocent people- a lot were teenagers who were salvaged, and some were killed in cross fires during police operations.

While the government appears to be winning the war against illegal drugs, the suppliers are still on the loose. They keep on using their powers and connections in distributing the illegal drugs in communities. Why does the government not keen on running after them? Why zero in to the drug users and pushers where in fact, this drug menace is perpetrated by the crazy narco-politicians and rouge policemen, as what President Duterte has been saying.

The declaration of municipalities and cities as drug free deserves a better look. The drug problem is both social and economic phenomena, health issues included. Why are we in a hurry for the declaration of drug free municipalities and cities? Is this to appease the national leadership of PNP and President Duterte?

Unless the government will look into the underlying activities and problems on illegal drugs, this will not be solved overnight. Although more lives will be wasted on the war on illegal drugs, the issues will be cyclical and we have to go back to its roots in the future.

(For comments and suggestions, email me at emperorvirgil@yahoo.com or at virgilmaganes42@gmail,com. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Read the online edition of Northern Watch at www.northwatch.wordpress.com)

Entry filed under: News.

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