GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 November)– The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Region 12 has shifted the focus of its anti-drug awareness campaigns in local schools after another high school student here recently tested positive of using illegal drugs.
Aileen Lovitos, PDEA Region 12 director, said Monday the student specifically yielded positive of using metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu in a drug test conducted by the agency in coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd).
She said the student was initially suspected to be have been using illegal drugs and was brought to their office for testing.
The official said they immediately turned him over to the City Social Welfare and Development Office for proper evaluation and counseling.
Last year, Lovitos said a male teacher and a student of a public high school here were also found positive of drug use.
“These are manifestations that the problem on illegal drugs in the area is now in much wider scale and we need to address this before the situation worsens,” she said in a media forum.
To curb the problem, the official said they launched massive anti-drug awareness and education activities in various public and private schools within the region.
Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal,Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
“We’ve been visiting elementary and high schools to conduct lectures and seminars regarding illegal drugs and at the same time encourage our pupils and students to become anti-drug advocates, not only in schools but in their communities as well,” she said
Lovitos said they also assisted DepEd in the conduct of random drug tests on some students, especially those in public high schools.
Meantime, the official said they have placed this city, nearby Koronadal City and North Cotabato province as top priority in terms of anti-drug surveillance and related operations due to the noted increase in illegal drug activities in these areas in the past several months.
She said the increase in illegal drug activities in Koronadal City and its capital South Cotabato could be attributed to the area’s improved economy and expanding commerce or trade activities.
This city has become a top market for illegal drugs in the past several years due to its booming economy and the presence of an international airport and the Makar port, she said.
Lovitos said North Cotabato is considered critical in terms of illegal drugs due to its proximity to the cities of Davao and Cotabato, which are both identified as the main sources of illegal drugs that have been proliferating in the region. (MindaNews)