MANILA -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) welcomed the move of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to file administrative charges against barangay (village) officials who failed to activate their local anti-drug abuse councils.
PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said this in response to the impending issuance of a DILG memorandum urging village officials to establish functional barangay anti-drug abuse councils (BADACs) in their areas of jurisdiction within 30 days, or else they would face charges of dereliction of duty.
The DILG had already admonished erring barangay officials through letters, but those warnings were ignored.
BADACs shall render assistance to the law enforcement agencies in the eradication and clearing operation of illegal drugs. They were deputized to plan and implement strategic policies, programs and projects on drug prevention and control, given the political and police powers of the barangay to administer the affairs of the community, Aquino said, citing Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regulation No. 3 Series of 2017, otherwise known as Strengthening the Implementation of the Barangay Drug-Clearing Program.
He appealed to other government agencies to help the agency in clearing the 24,424 barangays from illegal drugs by 2022.
Aquino said that among the concerns raised were the inactive BADAC; inactive BADAC Auxiliary Teams (BAT); refusal of DOH officials to sign clearances due to unavailability of drug reformation centers; and lack of local government unit (LGU) support.
PDEA cannot do it alone. We need these agencies to step-up, Aquino said.
PDEA's goal to clear the remaining 24,424 drug affected barangays or 58.10 percent out of 42,036 barangays in the country by 2022 can be achieved with the combined efforts of all concerned agencies, Aquino added.
In accordance with a Dangerous Drugs Board regulation, all local government units (LGUs) are tapped to appropriate a substantial portion of their annual budgets for barangay drug-clearing operations, including the activation of BADACs.
Failure to do so, shall be a ground for disapproval of their annual budget and possible filing of appropriate charges pursuant to the local government code and anti-drug law, Aquino said in a statement.
Aquino also said local officials engaged in illegal drug activities, or who may have benefited from it, they will face criminal and administrative charges pursuant to RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
In the absence of a functioning BADACs, there is a high probability that these barangays have officials who are involved in the illegal drug trade, or their barangays are havens of illegal drug activities, he said.
PDEA reiterates its call for these non-compliant barangays not only activate but also strengthen their BADACs. The battle against illegal drugs at the community and street levels definitely starts in barangays. BADACS are important in maintaining a pro-active stand in shielding the people from the drug menace, the PDEA chief added.
An oversight body on the barangay drug-clearing program was created to ensure the regularity and the accuracy of the program.
It is composed of local representatives from the PDEA, DILG, the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Health (DOH), and LGUs.
There are defined roles and responsibilities set for each member of the Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug-Clearing Program, as well as the parameters prior the declaration of a Drug-Cleared Barangay, pursuant to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), Regulation No.3, Series of 2017, on Strengthening the Implementation of Barangay Drug Clearing Program.
The sustainability and unified effort of the agencies concerned will lead to the realization of our goal for Drug-Free Philippines by 2022, Aquino said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency