[Full Text] P​olicy Forum: Implementation of Anti-Illegal Drugs Campaign in Cebu

ADMU-UNDP on Anti-Drug Campaigns: What Works and What Doesnt Work

October 3, 2016, Microtel Hotel, Quezon City

Speaker: Hilario P. Davide lll

                  Governor of Cebu 

The fight against illegal drugs is not a matter of choice. It is a must, if we are to leave behind a just and livable society for this  and future generations. Neither is it a stand-alone action that diminishes the importance of our war against poverty and inequality. 

The Cebuanos are solid behind the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to be at the forefront of bringing lasting change in the lives of the Filipino people. 

The fight against criminality and illegal drugs and corruption will be relentless and sustained. I call on the police, (military), local chief executives and those occupying seats of power and authority not to lower their guard.” –      

President Rodrigo R. Duterte

Indeed, we cannot afford to lower our guard in this One Big Fight (the Ateneo community’s famous yell) to provide lasting solutions to the nagging problems, like illegal drugs, and sustain the gains that we already have. 

On behalf of the people of Cebu, let me express my sincere gratitude to the organizers of this knowledge sharing forum for the opportunity to contribute our own experiences and learning in Cebu in the fight against illegal drugs. 

As a lawyer and governor, I do not and will never take this campaign against illegal drugs short and easy. We are with the national government all the way in ensuring peace and upholding law and order in our respective communities to protect and keep our families safe. 

That is the least that we can do.

We believe firmly in the rule of law. We do not need and will not condone extra-judicial killings.  

In 2013, at the onset of my first term in office, I called for consultations with various sectors and conducted a stakeholders summit to help us identify and understand the different issues, define our priorities, and design our provincial development agenda.  

We focused on six key areas: health and social protection; agriculture and countryside development; education and technical vocational training; tourism investment and infrastructure development; environment, disaster risk reduction and climate change; and law and order. 

Our development roadmap, particularly on law and order, is a shared responsibility.  

While there are national government agencies tasked to address lawlessness, the local government units are equally accountable in maintaining peace and order as provided for under the general welfare provision of the Local Government Code.

 In Cebu, we partner with these agencies to have a unified and functioning mechanism that addresses illegal drugs, as well as criminality, human trafficking, child pornography and disruption of public order.

Aggressive campaigns against illegal drugs have been initiated and sustained led by our Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council or CPADAC. Now, we have a full-fledged office in the provincial government, the Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Office or CPADAO, created through a provincial ordinance, which has been working with various sectors of the community in broader and intensive effort against this menace. 

CPADAO was created to serve as the lead coordinating agency in the province, which assists the Office of the Governor and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in developing effective and efficient anti-drug abuse programs.

We nurture a strong partnership with the private sector, civil society and non- government organizations, the regional offices of the Department of Education, the Dangerous Drugs Board-Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the DOJ’s National  Prosecution Service, and the PNPs Cebu Provincial Police Office in pursuit of anti-drug abuse programs in the entire province.

At the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, we provide opportunities to the inmates, around two thirds of them facing illegal drugs cases, to reform themselves, guided by the principles of human transformation, as productive members of the community despite the challenges we have in addressing the complex situation. 

Our programs include provision of livelihood projects and access to education through the Alternative Learning System. Apart from the well-known dancing inmates, the provincial jail has a bakeshop and auto repair shop. 

It is hoped that the reforms we have instituted are sustained to make their living conditions better.

Indeed, the governments ability to ensure peace and order has direct impact on inclusive and sustained development of our communities. 

The high drug affectation and peace and order conditions that greeted us and the results of our stakeholders summit prompted the provincial government to reactivate and push for a functional anti-drug abuse body in Cebu. We did not want this to worsen and make our communities more vulnerable to lawlessness and discontent. 

In Cebu, out of 1,066 barangays in the entire province, only 132 barangays are not threatened by drug affectation. A total of 934 Barangays or 88% are affected by illegal drug activities (14 of these are seriously affected).

Together with member agencies (PDEA, PNP and DOJ), CPADAC scored modest gains at the beginning of our campaign, unlike the enforcement-centered approach of the national government, which yielded overwhelming results in terms of the number of surrenderers and illegal drugs destroyed. 

This augurs well for the success of the national campaign, but it has also raised alarming concerns from other sectors due to the number of drug-related deaths and killings during police operations nationwide.   

Various sectors have expressed different opinions on the results of this intensified war against illegal drugs. In Cebu, we focus on our problems and address them based on our capabilities and resources. 

We follow and do what is right. 

Guided by the DILGs response to the Presidents pronouncements, we support the strengthening of local and barangay-based institutions, like the Local Peace and Order, and  Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils; and, harnessing the participation of community and church-based organizations, like the Ugnayan ng Barangay at Simbahan (UBAS), and civil society, non-government, and people’s organizations. 

We also believe that the drive against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption will not succeed without LGUs, communities and national government working together.

Various reports from the Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operation Task Group 7 and our CPADAO have shown encouraging results. 

Our present surrenderers under the Oplan Tokhang or kaTOK HANGyo (knock and plea) have reached 31,956, with 29,736 Users and 2,220 Pushers based on the records of the Philippine National Police.

The number of illegal drugs confiscated in 2015 almost doubled compared to 2014 with 15,925 grams of shabu having a total DDB value of 188 million Pesos.  Of the 2,286 anti-drug operations conducted, 3,344 persons were arrested and 4,123 cases were filed in court, according to the Task Force report.

We are currently implementing demand or harm reduction efforts to reduce the use of illicit drugs, which include both sanctions and incentives. These include functionality of ADACs, implementation of LGU policies and necessary legislative measures on anti-drugs abuse, participation of schools and parents-teachers associations, community-based drug prevention and health care, and social and economic sphere to fight delinquency and substance abuse.  

These are also used to measure and monitor  the performance of our LGUs in their respective anti-illegal drugs campaign under our Sugbo Kontra Droga (SUKOD), formerly the JSN or Just Say No (to Drugs) program. 

The SUKOD program is a provincewide, year-long campaign to persuade the LGUs to perform their functions under the law, to increase public awareness, develop ADACs, and strengthen their network through the use of combined strategies of a performance-based ratings, grant of incentives, encouraging collaboration and joint activities.  

We are also undertaking drug supply reduction strategies, which provide necessary support and incentives to the PNP/CPPO in the implementation of RA 9165 and other Anti-illegal Drugs Program.

A very important initiative we have that gained significant success is the Limpyo Probinsya Project, which is a time-bounded law enforcement operations led by the CPPthat has resulted to date in the arrest of 473 offenders, recovery of 67 assorted firearms, and confiscation of 3,386 grams of shabu with aDDB value of almost 40 million Pesos in its 5 planned operations. 

In our own back yard, not less than 20 employees of the provincial government found positive for metamphetamine during frequent random drug tests, and guilty of substance abuse, were dismissed from the service.

Recently, we have designed a community-based crisis intervention program in response to the growing needs to complement the national governments Oplan Tokhang. This seeks to address the welfare of the surrenderers in partnership with the different sectors at various levels. We help in control and rehabilitation on substance abuse, drug proofing the barangays, and after care or re-integration interventions through training and livelihood. 

In our continuing engagement with the different stakeholders, we are undertaking a number of initiatives that help sustain our programs.

We have forged partnerships with the national government, private sector, the religious groups, and members of civil society for the construction, hopefully soon, of rehabilitation centers for drug surrenderers.  

Together with our Provincial Womens Commission headed by the Vice-Governor, we are now offering scholarship grants through our Paglaum Scholarship Program for qualified applicants, particularly those who have experienced drug abuse or dependents of drug users belonging to the marginalized sectors.  

Both our Provincial Health Office (PHO) and CPADAO have been tasked to conduct trainings for barangay health workers (BHWs) and staff of provincial hospitals to assist drug surrenderers needing medical attention. 

Our tasks are continuing and evolving. 

Narcopolitics has no place in our society. 

We need to be engaged positively with various stakeholders, particularly the private sector, non-government organizations, and various government institutions, in developing an enduring partnership to address effectively the problem of illegal drugs, including inter-local cooperation among LGUs to pool resources and personnel. 

We have to build a stronger and more transparent partnership with the PNP in our anti-illegal drugs campaign, including proactive leadership and stricter control and supervision by local chief executives of peace and order, safety and security issues. 

I subscribe that no stand-alone policy option is going to solve immediately the illicit drug problem. The extent of the current drug crisis, however, compels us to seek a balanced and more thorough examination of the advantages and limitations of all the available policy options – ours included, as we are also having our own learning curve.

In particular, it is important to recognize the joint responsibility of both the government and the community, and, therefore, the need for shared and coherent policy approaches. 

It is also my humble submission that policy strategies must address the causes of the problem rather than its symptoms: drug abuse is often linked to dysfunctional family ties, lack of education and employment opportunities, poor housing and health care in marginal communities, and even fleeting moments of fame and glory. 

We may attribute the drug problem to the failure of our justice and law enforcement agencies to arrest the illicit drugs trade, prosecute and put behind bars erring government officials. But, this does not help at all, if we are to sit and just watch as the spectacle unfolds.  

We must do and contribute something concrete to a lasting solution to this critical problem that is tearing apart the fabric of our nation.  

We hope that by sharing our own narrative in the province of Cebu we are able to contribute our little share as we move forward to bring back the pride and humility of the Filipino we have always cherished.  

Again, thank you very much. Daghang salamat.

God bless the Philippines. God bless us all. 

Mabuhi kitang tanan