GOVERNMENT officials in Northern Mindanao, prominent church leaders in Cagayan de Oro and some high-ranking officials from the academe have combined efforts in supporting the advocacy of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against the continuous proliferation of illegal drugs in the region.

On Thursday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Commission on Higher Education (Ched), Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), Cagayan de Oro College (COC) and religious leaders signed a memorandum of agreement that symbolizes their commitment in pursuing the programs of PDEA to stop or at least minimize drug distribution in the region especially in Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Ozamiz City and Iligan City.

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At a simple program held at the Bishop’s House in Cathedral Church, each of the signatories lauded PDEA for leading the affair, which they said would show the seriousness of the government to fight illegal drugs.

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma said there should be more talk against illegal drugs education than “sex education.”

Maximo O. Dichoso, DENR-Northern Mindanao regional executive director, lauded the effort the PDEA in curbing the illegal drug trade in the region.

Dichoso said he has directed his men in the field to ensure that no illegal drugs such as marijuana are planted in public lands in the region.

“With our deputized people, we show our all-out support (because this is) a very destructive element (in the environment),” he said.

Gerry J. Caño, college dean at COC, vowed to strengthen the student councils in schools and be educated on how to campaign to fellow students on the adverse effects of using and pushing illegal drugs.

“As intelligence team, they (student councils) can be utilized to give feedbacks and information to local authorities that would lead to the arrests of the suspects,” Caño said.

He added that the student councils in Bukidnon, St. Joseph in El Salvador and Tagoloan National High Schools should be strengthened with the help of the city government through the City Council.

DOLE assistant director Sisinio Cano said this is a timely undertaking as this would enhance the government’s program on the prevention of the proliferation of illegal drugs.

Gilberto Abanto Jr., PDEA director in Northern Mindanao, said with the combined strength of the different agencies, the campaign against illegal drugs would be successful.

For his part, Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya, chairperson of the City Council’s committee on peace and order, commended Abanto for showing achievements in the region “beyond expectations.”

Nacaya is known to be strict in implementing peace and order policies of the City Government as head of the People’s Law Enforcement Board, who authored several resolutions condemning ill actions of some members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the PDEA. (Loui S. Maliza, Correspondent)