BAGUIO CITY – The province of Apayao formally launched a province-wide anti-drug campaign to address the alarming increase of drug-related cases in the province.
The launching was held in Kabugao last February 9, during the joint Provincial Peace and Order Council and Provincial Development Council meeting led by Gov. Elias Bulut Jr., Congresswoman Eleanor Begtang and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Cordillera (PDEA-CAR) Regional Director Juvenal Azurin.
Spearheaded by the Kabugao Municipal Mayor Joseph Amid, this old capital town initiated the first drug-test among local government employees with the goal to have a drug-free local government.
There were about 168 employees who were tested and screened for drugs including those from national agencies like Department of Education, Commission on Elections, non-uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police and the Association of Barangay Councils.
This is an initiative of the municipality of Kabugao and will be implemented on the other municipalities too, said Bulut.
“The campaign focuses on creating a program on anti-drug designed from the barangay level with participation from the public and the different sectors. The drug-testing done by the LGU Kabugao is the first step and a sample of this campaign,” said Bulut.
The PDEA-CAR has identified drugs as a rising problem in the province with the town of Luna has having the most number of drug-related cases as of this writing. 13 of 36 barangays in the province are identified as drug-infiltrated specifically with shabu.
Bulut attributed this increase to the lack of campaign and participation from the people. “We cannot depend on the police or PDEA alone, we need also to tap private sectors, religious sectors and barangay officials,” said Bulut.
The Governor believes that in order to lessen poverty, it is important to first address peace and order issue like drugs. “Love your family, let’s make Apayao drug-free and get rid of poverty.”