The Agora



It took a Korean businessman’s life before Pres. Duterte realized that there is something terribly wrong with the organization that he has tasked with the prime responsibility of waging his war on illegal drugs. Joo Ick Jee’s murder inside Camp Crame, no less committed by PNP operatives, was the last straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.  It was the strongest argument against his blind trust on the PNP.  As a result he immediately ordered the suspension of Operation Tokhang and for the PNP to desist from taking the lead in the war against illegal drugs until it shall have cleansed the organization by getting rid of the scalawags – the termites that eat the PNP wood.  Well and good.


It is not well and good though for the majority of the officers and men in the PNP who have been true and dedicated to excellent service. In Bohol alone people can feel the bitter feeling and pain that he policemen feel and that cause demoralization to sip among the ranks.  It is an admitted fact that in a basket full of eggs there will always be some that are rotten.  But why did it take these few rotten eggs to crack and contaminate everyone with the foul odor before they were discovered?


One former PNP officer, now a member of the House of Representatives may have diagnosed the problem correctly.  PNP Chief, General Ronald de la Rosa has focused his attention to the operational aspect of the PNP and lost sight of the administrative matter where discipline and human resource development belong.


So what now of the war against illegal drugs?  It is still there. The spirit remains strong but the effectiveness is weakened by the lack of warm bodies to carry it out since PDEA, despite its name that is supposedly by nature the lead agency against illegal drugs is a small organization.  But should encourage them though is that most of the peddlers and street runners of the illegal trade have been caught, surrendered or are six (6) feet below the ground.  Their biggest challenge now is to apprehend, charge in court, and ultimately put the drug lords to prison, if not below the ground too.  After getting practically all the small fries, only a fool will believe that the drug lords have not been identified yet.  A delay in catching them will spark another speculation in the minds of the public that the like of Joo Ick Jee’s killers are not only at the PNP but also at PDEA.


Another thing, the other big challenge now is what to do with hundreds of thousands who have come out and say they are users and victims of the illegal drugs.  In Bohol alone, more than 37,000 have surrendered under the Operation Tokhang but only 8,587 have so far been categorized by the Center for Drug Education and Counselling (CEDEC) being headed by former Board Member Dr. Yul Lopez.


Last week the Provincial Peace and Order Council of Bohol approved and adopted the Drug Rehabilitation Program without Walls, a program conceptualized and operationalized earlier by the Diocese of Talibon.  With that, the program is now to be implemented province-wide by all cooperating organizations to be coordinated jointly by the Provincial Peace and Order Council and the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council.  Their implementing and support arms will include the Countryside Development Program-Purok Power Movement (CDP-PPM), the Municipal Anti-Drug Abuse Councils, Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) of the Catholic Church, and the families.


The program will include psycho-social interventions only for the low and moderate risk substance abuse users since those severely affected will have to be referee to a rehabilitation facility for medical treatment. The end goal of the program is for every house to have on its door a seal of drug free family. The program was already presented to DILG Secretary Ismael ‘Mike’ Sueno last Wednesday.


Again the challenge to this is its implementation. How far the program can be sustained by the different implementers is something that must be monitored on a regular basis or it can also die a natural death when the enthusiasm is killed by ningas cogon.  We will write more about this in future issues.


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