BONTOC, Mountain Province – Mountain Province has the lowest number of drug users and drug pushers in the Cordillera region who surrendered to police authorities since the campaign against illegal drugs, through the Project Double Barrel of the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, was launched nationwide on July 1, 2016.
As of September 26, 2016; the Mountain Province Provincial Police Office (MPPPO) listed a total of 457 who surrendered, 412 are users while 45 are pushers. Of the total, there are 29 minors, eight are government employees and elective public officials, seven are females and 447 are males. Of the 412 users, 97 are using marijuana while the remaining 355 are shabu users. Aside from those who surrendered, 16 were arrested and are now detained at the Bilibid Provincial Jail under the management of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), two are at large and one died under investigation.
Out of the ten municipalities in the province, eight municipalities are affected by drugs. Under the municipalities, 55 villages are drug-affected. The villages underwent thorough assessment and evaluation before they were classified as drug-affected, pursuant to standards being followed by the agency. Drug-affected villages are those with drug users, drug pushers and a drug trader, while severely drug affected barangays are those with existing drug laboratories, among others. The municipalities of Barlig and Besao and other barangays that were identified without illegal-drug activities are being monitored and are under validation.
According to Police Superintendent Marcial L. Fa-ed of the MPPPO, Bauko listed the highest number of those who surrendered to the police with 171, followed by Paracelis with 120. The capital town Bontoc listed 57, Sagada has 50, 42 in Tadian, nine in Sabangan, and Natonin and Sadanga both listed four.
Fa-ed explained that in the absence of a Drug Rehabilitation Center in province, the PNP help ensure that the surrenderees will have proper reintegration and that they will completely refrain from illegal drug related activities. The PNP adopted the Community-based Reformation Program for those who surrendered, involving them in productive activity of the community such as tree planting, clean-up drive and physical exercise. These activities of the MPPPO through its municipal police stations (MPS) are in coordination with the concerned local government units. The municipal police stations also coordinated with the religious sector for the spiritual nourishment of the surrenderees. In addition, the MPPPO through its respective MPS are closely coordinating with the LGUs and other agencies for the inclusion of the surrenderees in Livelihood Programs.
Fa-ed added that the PNP continuously visits different schools and barangays in their advocacy and information education campaign against illegal drugs. Police authorities here believe that educating the public, especially the youth, on the effect of illegal drugs on their physical, mental and psychosocial health aspects is a very effective tool in sending the message to the public that illegal drugs destroy lives.
In a meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) on September 14, 2016; Police Senior Superintendent Cornelio P. Comila, Provincial Director of the MPPPO said that from July to September 2016, they did not expect that so many would positively respond and voluntarily turn themselves in. He however claimed that this is the result of the “OplanTokhang” and house visitations of PNP personnel together with the members of the Barangay Anti-Illegal Drugs Campaign (BADAC) and convince those involved in illegal drug activities to reform.
PSSupt.Comila also reported that Mountain Province recorded the lowest number of drug users and pushers compared to other provinces in the Cordillera region. Comparing it to Kalinga, he informed the council that more than 1,000 drug personalities surrendered in July to August 2016.
PSSupt.Comila remarked that it is their aim to clear all the barangays in the province to become drug-free. He gave orders to the Chiefs of Police in all the municipalities in the province to firmly and continuously implement the OplanTokhang and House Visitation to identified drug users in all barangays. He added that the PNP is continuously monitoring tourists coming to the province. He explained that through the established Tourist Assistance Desk in police stations, PNP personnel detailed are monitoring the activities of tourists entering their area of responsibility.
PSSupt.Comila further stressed that the fight against illegal drugs is not the concern of the PNP only, but everyone. “The province is generally peaceful and orderly. However, the need of stronger collaboration among local government units (LGUs), national government agencies (NGAs), PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), community and other stakeholders will further improve the peace and order situation in the province,” PSSupt appealed.
Governor Bonifacio C. Lacwasan Jr., who also chairs the PPOC assured the support of the provincial government on the intensified anti-illegal drug campaign. Also, to further strengthen the campaign against illegal drugs in the province, Lacwasan issued Executive Order No.18, S. 2016, reorganizing the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PADAC). The executive order calls for a more aggressive and unified stance against illegal drugs to help ensure community peace harmony in the province.
Alpine L. Killa and Laycha K. Marra