FOR declaring an all-out war against illegal drugs, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia received a plaque of appreciation from the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 7 yesterday.

Garcia considered the award as a validation of what she’s doing to fight the illegal drugs trade.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

“If we can just work together, we can really have quantifiable result on a major concern that plagues the entire country and that is the drug abuse problem,” she said.

“If you would recall, when I was in Dumaguete for the Regional Peace and Order Council meeting, I declared an all-out war against illegal drugs but it wasn’t a mere declaration. We did not stop there,” she told reporters.

Garcia said she got together all concerned agencies to focus on making concrete steps against the drug abuse problem.

She said their first problem was the lack of resources at the PDEA 7. She said PDEA 7’s 30 members are ill- equipped to handle the entire region.

Garcia said they sought to increase their number by deputizing the barangay tanods, bringing their war against illegal drugs to the barangay level.

Buy-busts

PDEA 7 Director Randy Pedroso said that in 2008, they conducted 366 operations, including buy-bust, and arrested 523 persons. Last year, they conducted 1,095 operations and arrested 1,220 persons.

Former senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, former chairman of the DDB, was present during the giving of award to Garcia at the Governor’s Office yesterday.

He said he has a proposal to make Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) a pilot program for drug rehabilitation.

Garcia said it was the first time that she heard about Sotto’s proposal.

Earlier, Capitol consultant on information and revenue generation Rory Jon Sepulveda said CPDRC is not about dancing but rehabilitation. CDPRC inmates have become popular because of their dance performances.

Sotto credited the CPDRC’s efforts in making its dancing inmates popular. But he said CPDRC should be popular not only because of the dancing inmates but also because of its rehabilitation.

“I’m not saying that the dancing is bad. It’s good also. But the problem is, outside of Cebu, they only look at it as the dancing. They don’t see the rehabilitation program is very successful, even the drug rehabilitation program. That’s the reason, you can be successful if you have the drug program, prevention and rehabilitation,” Sotto told reporters.

Sotto said he will seek One Cebu’s endorsement for his senatorial bid.

Garcia said One Cebu will choose candidates who have a leaning towards Cebu and Cebu’s development agenda.

As regards One Cebu’s choice for vice presidential candidate, Garcia said they are still observing how the candidates view issues that have to do with Cebu.