Village trying to shed image as drug haven
MAASIN CITY—Barangay (village) Mantahan is a fishing village here known for a lot of things.
It is home to the Our Lady of the Assumption Shrine, which has an imposing 35-meter-tall statue of the Blessed Virgin that can be viewed from the port.
During the holidays, the barangay is known for its beautiful street lights. It is also famous for its mangsi, a fish species that is perfect for bottling like Spanish sardines.
But there is one aspect of the barangay that village officials are hoping to change: illegal drugs.
The proliferation of illegal drugs has earned the village the unfortunate moniker of being a shabu tiangge and has been identified by the police as a drug haven.
Residents are complaining that youths serve as runners for drug dealers for a fee of less than P50.
But village officials have decided to address the problem head-on.
The barangay council of Mantahan, led by its chair, Rafael Omega, held a dialogue with 12 parents of known drug dependents in the village.
Omega, who admitted being a former drug user, urged parents to help their children whose lives were slowly being destroyed by drugs.
“I might be a (drug) user before but I will not condone illegal activity especially illegal drugs. Tell your children that I don’t tolerate drug activities in our barangay,” he told the parents during a recent meeting at the barangay hall.
Omega, 31, admitted that he knew how his parents suffered because of his drug problem. He also had to overcome the stigma of being a drug dependent.
One of the parents told the village officials that some suspicious-looking individuals would knock on their doors in the wee hours, looking for her son.
SPO1 Michaelou Yepes, of the Maasin police intelligence section, urged the parents to talk to their children and make them understand the dangers of using drugs.
He also praised the parents for attending the dialogue since only a few would accept that their children were drug users.
Supt. Hector Enage, Maasin police chief, lauded the village officials for taking the initiative in addressing the problem of illegal drug use in the barangay.
“I praise the Mantahan council for taking the drug problem seriously. I hope other barangays with similar problems will follow suit,” Enage said.
If the dialogue with the parents would not yield the desired results, the next step would be to talk to the drug users themselves and let them sign a commitment that they would stop using drugs.
Barangay officials did not discount the possibility of conducting a saturation drive to put an end to the village’s ill reputation of being a drug haven.