Surigao Norte LGUs told to reactivate anti-drug abuse councils

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 5 Aug) – Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency are urging local government units in Surigao del Norte to reactivate their anti-drug abuse council (ADAC) to help in the fight against the illegal drug trade.

Supt. Joseph R. Nohara, city police chief, said he does not know which of the barangays have active ADACs. He noted that since he assumed office last January, he has not yet issued any certification to any barangay that is free from illegal drug trade.

He said he will look into the matter because LGUs are supposed to help the police in identifying persons in their respective communities who are engaged in illegal activities, especially on drugs.

Senior Supt. Erwin Oragio, PDEA-Caraga regional director, likewise said LGUs must do their share in the fight against drugs.

He told MindaNews in a phone interview that PDEA-Caraga only has 21 people, and thus would have difficulty in eradicating the problem.

Oragio urged LGUs to strengthened their ADACs and conduct preventive or educational programs, as well as rehabilitation and treatment of drug dependents.

He said all LGUs are mandated to appropriate a substantial portion of their respective annual budget to assist in implementing Republic Act No. 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).

He noted that ADACs have been organized in different LGUs throughout the country but many are not functioning.

Oragio said they were told by the Department of the Interior and Local Government that there are only very few LGUs that conduct activities related to the campaign against illegal drugs. “We will remind them again to make this advocacy a priority. We will focus on the barangay level because officials there personally know who are engaged in illegal drugs business,” he pointed out.

“We only have minimum cases of drug abuse in the region, but we want to spread awareness some more because I believe that prevention is still better than cure. So as much as possible, we also want the LGUs to join in the advocacy against drugs” he said.

The DILG, in a memorandum circular issued in 2003, directed ADACs to conduct information and education campaign on the ill-effects of illegal drugs, monitor and report to proper authorities drug pushers and drug users in the locality; prepare a confidential watch list of drug users and pushers for submission to the Philippine National Police; plan, strategize, implement and evaluate programs and projects on drug abuse prevention in the barangay.

Last month, Surigao del Norte Governor Sol F. Matugas issued a marching order to the authorities to eradicated the drug trade in the province, especially in six towns considered as drug havens – Dapa, General Luna, Placer, Claver, Placer and Mainit.