DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 07 March) – Barangay officials in the government’s drug watch list should not run in the May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, an official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Region 11 said Wednesday.
“If you want to run at the barangay level, you know who you are. If you know that you involved in drugs, please do not run, have shame, because you can no longer fool your constituents, you cannot encourage them to vote for you,” PDEA-11 regional director Antonio Rivera said during AFP-PNP press conference at the Royal Mandaya Hotel.
He said there are five high-value targets, including barangay officials, who are in the PDEA’s drug list – two in Davao del Sur and one each in Davao City, Davao Oriental and Comspostela Valley.
Lawyer Omar Samama, spokesperson for the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) 11, said there is no regulation that prohibits officials in the PDEA’s drug list from running for election but added they are awaiting guidelines from the COMELEC En Banc on the matter.
The filing of certificates of candidacy is scheduled from April 14 to 20, he said.
“There is still no such law that prevents a person from running if ever he is on PDEA’s watch list. As to whether or not the COMELEC will hamper or not if they are in the drug list, we still await COMELEC resolutions from En Banc how to address these issues,” he said.
On February 19, Department of Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Ricojudge Janvier M. Echiverri said at least 30% of the country’s 42,029 barangays are classified as severely affected and some of their officials are in the drug list.
He warned them to activate their respective Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC), or face suspension and complaints before the Ombudsman for “dereliction of duty.”
Catalino Cuy, chairperson of the Dangerous Drugs Board said the BADAC plays an important role in the anti-illegal drug campaign of the government, in particular in monitoring and identifying drug suspects and in the community-based drug rehabilitation program for mild and moderate drug users.
Cuy said the number of compliant barangays with organized and operationalized BADACs have increased to 70% from less than 50% at the start of the Duterte administration.
He said the BADAC also conducts awareness programs for non-users to prevent them from going into illegal drug use, as he said authorities are addressing the country’s drug problem not only through supply reduction but also demand reduction.
The most common drugs in the region are shabu and marijuana but they are monitoring the presence of “party drugs,” which are common in clubs and rave parties in Metro Manila, Rivera added.
He said party drugs may come in the form of a tablet, liquid, or powder, which are sometimes diluted in cocktails.
He added they are doing all they can to prevent the entry of illegal drugs into the region, especially via its porous coastline. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)