SENATOR Grace Poe urged Wednesday local government leaders to support the national anti-drug drive by institutionalizing a rewards system for informants helping authorities to apprehend drug dealers, couriers, and manufacturers.

Poe issued the call as she noted that the local government units’ (LGUs) network, especially in the barangays, remains an “untapped” resource in the fight against dangerous drugs.

The senator said that even with the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council, citizen participation in the anti-drug campaign is still very low.

“We cannot succeed in our anti-drug campaign if we cannot rally everyone, especially local leaders, to our cause, Many of those who have information are scared to come forward because they risk not only their safety but the security of their families, who rely on them for support,” said Poe, chairperson of Senate dangerous drugs committee.

The Philippines has one of the highest rates of methamphetamine use in Asia, with an estimated 960,000 or two percent of the adult population using the drug popularly known as shabu.

Around 20 percent or 8,400 of the country’s 42,000 barangays are drug-affected as they host a user, pusher, producer, or cultivator, or other drug personality, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said.

Poe said the LGUs can follow the Operation: Private Eye, a monetary reward system being used by the PDEA for information that leads to the seizure of dangerous drugs and arrest of drug personalities.

In 2014, the PDEA awarded P18 million to 28 informants who provided information through Private Eye operation.

The cooperation resulted in the arrest of 52 individuals and the seizure of 670 kilograms (kg) of shabu, 347 kg of ephedrine, 16 kg of marijuana, 3,897 ecstacy tablets, 515 “fly high” capsules, and other chemicals.

In the same year, the PDEA arrested 13,792 drug personalities and seized P6 billion worth of illegal drugs and chemicals.

Half of the anti-drug operations are buy-bust, relying on tips and agents’ intelligence reports.

The senator said the LGUs can establish a similar system that will not reveal the identity and compromise the security of informants.

She said the reward from the government would provide financial assistance to informants and deliver a message to all citizens that the government is serious in combating illegal drug activities.

“While we want to give incentives, the rewards system is not about the money but the willingness of people to assume responsibility for making their neighborhoods and workplaces safe and free from criminal elements,” Poe said.

“The fight against dangerous drugs is the fight of every parent, every teacher, every worker, and every official. We have a duty to protect our children and ensure that these dangerous drugs never reach them,” she added. (Sunnex)