Mayor Francis hails BIDA program; aims to make San Juan NCR's first drug-free city

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora expressed his support for the national government's latest program against illegal drugs which aims to use a more holistic approach to the country's illegal drug problem.

In an interview with ANC, Zamora said the city government of San Juan fully supports the "Buhay ay Ingatan, Droga ay Ayawan" or BIDA program of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos and the Marcos administration.

BIDA is a nationwide anti-illegal drugs advocacy program involving local government units (LGUs), national government agencies (NGAs), and other key sectors of the society.

It will focus more on drug demand reduction and rehabilitation in the communities, underscoring the role of drug enforcement agencies, including the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

During the program's launch in Quezon City on Nov. 26 which was attended by numerous local government chiefs and officials including Zamora, Abalos stated that the illegal drugs problem is a deep-seated issue that has continued to destroy relationships, families, and the future of the youth.

"It is a holistic approach into the drug war incorporating livelihood, education, the church addressing the social ills of our country. So, we address not just the branches causing the problems, but also uproot the drug problem. That is the framework of the BIDA program of Sec. Abalos," Zamora said.

He also revealed that there are already 18 out of 21 barangays in San Juan that have been declared drug-cleared.

"On Dec. 14, our last three barangays will be up for validation by the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) and if we indeed pass the validation, we will be drug-cleared already as a city," Zamora said.

"I also personally join drug raids with our police force. I make sure that the implementation of the protocols are correct and it's also my way of sending a message to everyone involved in drugs and criminality in our city that their mayor is serious in eradicating the drug problem here in San Juan and maintaining peace and order in our city," he added.

He said the city government is currently fixing its Balai Silangan which will serve as San Juan's drug reformation center where a PDEA office will also be built.

"This is a part of our drug-clearing efforts, in fact, part of the validation is the fact that we are already setting up our Balai Silangan," Zamora said.

The reformation center is funded by the city government wherein its patients will also be taught livelihood programs and classes to help them in their reintegration to society.

"We look at our PWUDs or the persons who use drugs as our constituents whom we have to support in terms of getting reintegrated back into the community. So we are setting this up for them, we will fund this for them, and we will make sure that during their stay here, they will be able to learn how to go back to normal life," the mayor said.

"Yes, they have experienced getting into drugs, being hooked into these substances, but again, we have to give them a second chance to be able to reintegrate themselves into the community," he added.