By Ellson Quismorio
Local government units (LGUs) must do their part in the administration’s war against illegal drugs by putting to work their respective barangay anti-drug abuse councils (BADACs), Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte said.
Villafuerte made this call a couple of months after President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that some seven to eight million Filipinos were already enslaved by the drug menace.
“The best way to eliminate the drug scourge at the grassroots is for our barangay officials to heighten their vigilance and make their anti-drug abuse councils do the job they are tasked to do,” said Villafuerte, a vice chairman of the House Committee on Local Government.
The Bicol solon said BADACs could serve as street-level law enforcement multipliers since two of their key tasks were to gather information on drug-related incidents in their respective areas and list down suspected drug users and pushers in their barangays or villages.
This list will then be submitted to the Philippine National Police (PNP) or the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for validation.
To rally support for the war against drugs, Villafuerte said BADACs should also seek the assistance of other groups in their communities such as health workers, youth groups, Parents-Teachers Associations (PTAs), senior citizens, and even the barangay-based transport organizations.
Last year, the PDEA pushed for the filing of administrative charges against barangay officials who had failed to activate their respective BADACs despite an order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) several years ago.
Based on reports from the DILG’s National Barangay Operations Office last year, 94 percent or 39,417 of the 42,036 barangays nationwide have organized their BADACs. Of the 39,417 compliant barangays, 86 percent have organized their auxiliary teams.
However, only 61 percent have formulated their BADAC Plans of Action, Villafuerte noted.
PDEA figures show that last year, out of the 24,424 drug-affected barangays in the country, 15,290 are classified as slightly affected, 9,089 are moderately affected, while 45 barangays are seriously affected.
“This shows the magnitude of the problem that we all face. The President needs all the help he can get to rid our society of the drug menace,” stressed Villafuerte, a former three-term Camarines Sur governor.
It was back in late February when President Duterte said that the number of drug dependents in the country has climbed to seven to eight million.
Villafuerte said the BADACs, whose members belong to their respective localities, are familiar with the goings-on in their barangays, making them the best sources of information on drug-related incidents.
He said that if some barangay officials themselves are involved in illegal drugs, as President Duterte himself had pointed out, the diverse composition of the BADACs would make it an effective “counter element” to these erring village executives.
The lawmaker, who in 2016 filed a bill creating a drug rehabilitation center in his province’s municipality of Libmanan, said local government officials have “an obligation and duty to their constituents to support the President’s relentless war against narco-traffickers and their cohorts in the government and the police force.”
Villafuerte said barangay officials can assist the national government in rehabilitating drug users by helping drug dependents who can be treated as outpatients.
“Many drug rehabilitation cases can still be treated as outpatient cases,” he pointed out.