TOP officials of Negros Island Region (NIR) led by Governors Alfredo Marañon Jr. of Negros Occidental and Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental urged Negrenses, particularly the barangay officials, to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in the anti-drug campaign.
Marañon and Degamo led Tuesday, July 5, the first regionwide Anti-Illegal Drugs Summit simultaneously held at L’ Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City and at the Convention Center in Dumaguete City.
In his keynote address, Marañon said he was elated that more than 800 participants, including 20 mayors and more than 700 barangay officials, came to show support.
“This only shows that each of us is concerned with the drug problem and that I’m hopeful that we can solve this sooner or later,” he said.
He said that he was asked by the media six months ago on how was the drug campaign of the government and he answered that, “we’re losing our battle against drugs. But after President Rodrigo Duterte won, who was very firm and very focus on his fight against drugs, there is now a light at the end of tunnel.”
The governor said: “Maybe we can’t totally solve the drug problem, but in the next six months, one half of the problem will be solved.”
“(That is) if we are firm in our commitment to solve our problem in drugs,” he added.
The governor said that illegal drugs will no longer be a problem in the future especially with the backing of the national government.
“Drugs destroy family and the society and it can hinder our progress,” he said.
Marañon urged local government officials to work together, from the barangay, sitios and the community.
“Together we can solve this,” he added.
Before his keynote speech, Marañon, in a press conference at the Provincial Capitol, said that it’s the work of barangay leaders to serve as eyes and ears of their community.
He said they will be charged administratively if they will not do anything about drugs.
“If drugs are rampant in their place, they can be accused,” he added. “They must be in the forefront of this campaign. They know who are the pushers, users, and peddlers in their barangays.”
Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, for his part, said the cooperation of the barangay leaders is very important because they know their community well.
At the end of the summit, Marañon, Lacson, and Chief Superintendent Conrado Capa, director of Police Regional Office-18, led the signing of the Pledge of Commitment.
It read: “We pledge to commit ourselves to actively participate in the fight against illegal drugs by recognizing our role in the anti-illegal drug activities in our community. We pledge to support the Philippine Government’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Program and to cooperate with all the stakeholders, regardless of political, social, racial, religious, and economic differences. We pledge to carry out our individual obligations to keep our families and ourselves drug-free. So, help us God.”
In Negros Oriental, Degamo said the summit was “very successful,” with all the mayors present along with the officials of the province’s 557 barangays.
He said they are all determined to help and cooperate with the police’s anti-drug campaign.
Degamo said he is optimistic that the prevalence of drugs will be minimized in the next six months.
“I hate drugs, it destroys the youth. We can achieve peace and order if there are no drugs. It will also open to more investments and will bring more livelihood opportunities,” he said.
Of the 1,219 barangays in the region, a total of 560, or 45.94 percent, are affected by drugs.
In Negros Occidental, 380 barangays, or 63 percent, are drug-affected, while in Negros Oriental, 120 barangays, or 22 percent, are affected by illegal drugs.
In Bacolod City, almost all of the barangays are drug-affected, with 60 barangays, or 98 percent, of the 61 villages.
A total of P22.024 million worth of illegal drugs was seized, while 623 persons were arrested in 407 operations in the region from January to June this year.
The assessment report, presented at the summit by Chief Inspector Mark Darroca, chief of Provincial Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group, showed that the selling of illegal drugs in the streets will be more discreet especially by those drug personalities who will not surrender.
New traffic routes have emerged and marketing strategies continue to develop to deceive authorities, the report added.
It added that the arrest of top drug personalities in Bacolod City in the previous months “have a domino effect in the chain of supply in Negros Occidental.”