Vol 1 Issue 7, July 2016, Frontpage
As an initial impact of the government’s serious crackdown on illegal drugs, a huge number of persons from the different barangays in the Municipality of Flora have admitted using shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) and voluntarily surrendered to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the first five weeks of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
As of 2:30 p.m. on July 28, a total of 236 residents of Flora have taken their oath to accept an offer to be under a rehabilitation program in line with the PNP’s massive campaign dubbed Oplan Double Barrel.
The big turnout has even surprised Acting Chief of Police Robert Balunos, who said that this is the highest in the Province of Apayao and it is expected to increase in the coming days.
He said that this is the result of the good cooperation of the convenor group composed of local government officials, members of the judiciary, government public safety and internal security agencies, members of the academe and other multi-sectoral groups.
Right after the swearing-in ceremonies of the new set of elected pubic officials on June 22, Mayor Rodolfo Juan and Chief of Police Robert Balunos announced during the first flag ceremony on July 4 their seriousness also to enforce the necessary measures in support of the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.
A week later on July 11, a total of 48, including a barangay captain, have showed-up and admitted to having use “shabu” in a meeting and counseling at the Dr. Efren U. De San Jose Sports Center.
The 48 self-confessed drug users have pledged to stay away from it and their willingness to be put under a rehabilitation program.
Those who witnessed and were part of the proceedings included Vice Mayor Jessica De San Jose and all the Members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Flora namely David Tabbaban Jr., Jessie Pascua, Vic Maruquin, Aniceta Cacacho, Clapton De San Jose, Demetrio Conde, Florendo Conde and Sergio Sabbun III.
That number has increased significantly on a daily basis when more drug users have surrendered following a house-to-house visitations by PNP officers on suspected individuals who are involved in related illegal drug activities.
Balunos said that even if they have already taken their oath not to use drugs again, reports are coming in that some of them have gone back to their old ways.
But the PNP has yet to verify these reports if it is true.
In the meantime, Balunos said that PNP-Flora is firm in its duty to enforce the LGU/Multi Sectoral Project in line with the campaign against illegal drugs entitled “PANAGBALBALIW” — “Transforming the surrendered Drug pusher and user by undergoing Recovery program.”
The Station Anti Illegal Drugs Unit (SAIDU) together with the Barangay Anti-Drug Action Center (BADAC) in every barangay will continue conduct massive information dissemination regarding Oplan Double Barrel.
This recovery project aims to extend assistance to those who volunteered to surrender to undergo training and moral recovery program within six months.
“The intention is to eliminate in their mind and body the illegal Drugs and to convince them to become holistic citizen of the municipality,” the project explains.
Balunos said that the success of PNP-Flora in Oplan Tokhang (to knock and persuade) is even recommended by Apayao Police Superintendent Jeffrey Carriaga to be a model in the province.
He said that there are only small number of drug dependents who have surrendered in the other municipalities of Apayao but no available data yet as of this writing.
Balunos explained the two phases of Oplan Double Barrel. The lower phase is the house visitation on suspects and the upper phase is identifying and neutralizing the so-called high value target.
He warned that suspects who repeatedly ignore the PNP campaign as well as those who will be proven not being serious enough to make amend from addiction even after they have taken their oath may be marked as high value targets.
He is urging the members of the family of a drug dependent for their cooperation. “It should start within the family circle especially in the moral recovery efforts,” Balunos said.
Those who have taken their oath were instructed to have a drug test at the Municipal Health Center in Anninipan but there is no data yet if how many of them have tested positive.
President Rodrigo Duterte estimated around 3.7 million Filipinos are addicted to illegal drugs.
National media reports have it that the PNP has reported approximately half-a-million who have so far heeded the call for voluntary surrender.