Local News: Victorias City Presses War vs. the Menace of Illegal Drugs
In a forum held last June 5 at the Victorias City Hall, enforcement agents Alexander Muñoz, Victorias Police Chief and Atty. Ronnie Delecana, Legal Officer of Region 6 Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA 6) expressed dissatisfaction over the reactions of stakeholders involved in the fight against illegal drugs.
Adm. Jorge Necesito (with mike) executive director of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) delivers remarks during the press conference on ‘Containing the Drug Menace in Our Midst,’ held at the Mayor’s Office of Victorias City last June 5, 2012. Among those present are PSupt. Alexander Muñoz, Chief of Police; Anne Fernandez, Parole & Probation Officer; Atty. Philip Jose Vera Cruz, Atty. Ronnie Delicana, PDEA Legal Counsel for Western Visayas, Mayor Severo Palanca and Dr. Ernesto Palanca, exec director, Negros Occ. Drug Rehab Foundation, among others.*(Pert Toga photo)
Munoz in his briefing paper specifically noted some Barangay Officials and Tanods who are afraid to get involved in the fight against the menace of illegal drugs posing hindrance to success rate of police operation in implementing the law against illegal drugs.
The Victorias Police Chief is likewise limited to filing charges of illegal gambling against drug "pushers" who are good in said clandestine activity rather than posses-sion or peddling of illegal drugs itself.
Nevertheless, a series of arrests were conducted in identified areas which is seriously affected by illegal drugs namely, Canetown of Barangay XIX-A, Barangay III and Salvacion Subdivision of Barangay VI and the rest of the 18 barangays are categorized "threatened".
Muñoz said that incidence of illegal drug activity would lay low in said areas but the probability of changing venues to perpetuate "pushing" and peddling remained high.
PDEA 6 Legal Officer Delecana, on the other hand, cited slow resolution of cases undergoing preliminary investigation and availability of detention facilities especially women detention centers considering that existing jails are overly congested.
There is no strict compliance with the requirement to terminate conduct of Preliminary Investigation within 30 days.
Delecana gave overall status of cases filed which in Bacolod alone, there are 1,150 anti-illegal drug pending cases while Negros Occidental as a province has 327 pending cases.
The problem is exacerbated owing to R.A. 9344 otherwise known as "The Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 which prohibits the arrest, interrogation and detention of minors 15 years and below.
These minors are trained pushers, runners, couriers in an increasing trend as protected by R.A. 9344.
In his assessment report, Delecana said, "The vision of a drug-free nation is attainable.
However, our problem on illegal drugs will continue to exist and would become worse unless all government agencies, local government units, non-government organizations, and the community will unite, cooperate and support PDEA as lead, in our common pursuit for a drug-free Philippines."*