Monday, August 14, 2006

Drug Abuse Cases In Palawan down by More than Half

By Ian Davatos

THE PROVINCIAL Prosecutors’ Office recorded only three cases of drug abuse in Palawan from January to June this year, a very encouraging figure for the Palawan Drug Abuse Council (PADAC) that convened last July 27 to formulate new strategies for eradicating drug abuse in the province.

Last year, 16 cases reached the prosecutor’s office, which means this year’s figures represent a decrease of more than half the number of cases. The drug abuse council could claim success in its campaign to free the province from illegal drugs if the trend will continue until yearend.

Supt. Reynaldo Jagmis of the Philippine National Police - Palawan reported that only three barangays in the province have reported cases of drug abuse, which he attributed to the successful reorganization of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils. However, he refused to name the three barangays.

Jagmis also disclosed that they are monitoring the police force for possible drug abuse.

“There are 10 policemen in our watch list who are suspected of using drugs. But we conducted a drug test this year and found all the results as negative. Yet we are still going to be careful with our men,” Jagmis said.

Since it was created in December 2001, PADAC has been active in primary intervention, training, intake and referrals, community outreach and volunteer services, research and documentation, monitoring and evaluation, the council said in a written report given to Bandillo.

“The activities have been going on, and they will continue in the future,” said Vice Gov. David Ponce de Leon, who serves as the vice chairman and executive officer of PADAC.

“All municipalities in southern Palawan, except Rizal and Quezon, have Community Outreach Centers that are fully operational. But in the north, only Taytay has it,” he added.

One of their programs this year is the establishment of Community Outreach Centers in Northern Palawan. The Centers disseminate drug information materials and serve as focal points of drug abuse prevention in their localities, the report said.

Other upcoming programs of PADAC are weekly trainings, seminars and forums for educators of the province, and the holding of the 4th Palawan Youth Congress on Drug Abuse Prevention with the theme, “Youth for Youth.”

The council also brainstormed on possible strategies to enhance the anti-drug abuse campaign.

Mayor Rosendo L. Mantes of Kalayaan, representing the League of Municipal Mayors, suggested giving extra attention to the coastal areas, which often serve as drop-off points of drug supplies.

Dr. Ben Carlos, an NGO representative, suggested: “It would be better for the SK representatives of municipalities to visit the City Jail and observe the drug pushers and users there so that, through the experience, they may realize how miserable there life will become once they try using illegal drugs.”

But Eva Ponce de Leon, wife of the vice governor and president of the Inter-Agency Committee for Drug Abuse Preventive Education Program, expressed doubts about the idea.

“One thing is that we cannot predict what they are going to say. We should monitor first what they are going to say before asking them to speak. Their words may invoke danger; they may even encourage (the use of drugs) rather than discourage,” she said.

Instead, she proposed that, “We must also expand prevention in work places because it is much easier to purchase drugs when one has income.”


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