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DILG WARNING

Barangay execs to face raps for absence of drug councils

/ 05:19 AM February 27, 2018

DAVAO CITY — Tens of thousands of village officials nationwide face charges for failing to activate local drug abuse councils, which serve as the government’s eyes and ears and now considered as a key component in the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said officials of up to 9,000 villages across the country would be charged with dereliction of duty.

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Ricojudge Janvier Echiverri, assistant interior secretary for legislative and external affairs, said the village officials had been warned, through letters signed by then Interior Undersecretary Catalino Cuy, against failure to activate the councils.

“But they did not heed the warning,” Echiverri said.

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Last chance

According to Echiverri, acting Interior Secretary Eduardo Año would give the officials a last chance to put the councils to work to avoid being charged.

Anytime this week, Echiverri said the DILG would issue a memorandum compelling the village officials to activate the councils in 30 days. Copies of the memorandum would be sent to the erring officials.

If the local drug abuse councils were not activated after 30 days, the village officials would be charged with dereliction of duty and suspended, according to Echiverri.

Aaron Aquino, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief, cited data that showed 9,000 villages nationwide, where the drug trade thrives, had no functioning drug abuse councils.

Most of the villages are in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Aquino said.

First line of defense

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The local drug abuse councils, known by their acronym Badac (Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council), are considered the first line of defense against the drug trade in communities because village officials were supposed to have firsthand information on drug suspects and users in their areas.

The number of villages without functioning Badacs represents nearly 30 percent of the country’s 42,000 villages, according to Aquino.

Echiverri said the role of Badacs in the war on drugs was crucial as they not only monitored the movement of drug suspects but were also expected to enforce programs to prevent drug abuse.

The councils were also expected to implement community-based programs for the rehabilitation of drug addicts, he said.

Cuy, who now heads the Dangerous Drugs Board, said villages with either “disorganized or nonfunctional Badacs” were also known to be drug hot spots.

“Most likely, these barangays have officials involved in illegal drugs,” said PDEA’s Aquino. —ALLAN NAWAL

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TAGS: barangay officials, DILG, Eduardo Año, local drug abuse councils, Ricojudge Janvier Echiverri
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