The admission of President Rodrigo Duterte that the number of illegal drug users in the country has ballooned to as many as eight million has prompted a lawmaker to call on barangay officials to activate anti-drug abuse councils in their localities.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said that while the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police are still reassessing their strategies in winning the drug war, local governments should do their part by making their respective BADACs useful in the President's drive against drug abuse and narco-trafficking.
“The best way to eliminate the drug scourge at the grassroots is for our barangay officials to heighten their vigilance and make their anti-drug abuse councils do the job they are tasked to do,” said Villafuerte, vice chairman of the House local government committee.
Villafuerte said BADACs could serve as street-level law enforcement multipliers because two of their key tasks are to gather information about drug-related incidents in their areas, and to list down suspected drug users and pushers in their barangays for submission to the PNP or the PDEA for validation, he said.
Villafuerte added BADACs should also provide the assistance of other groups and individuals in the communities such as health workers, youth groups, Parents-Teachers Associations, senior citizens and even the barangay-based transport organizations.
Last year, the PDEA had pushed for the filing of administrative charges against barangay officials who had failed to activate their respective BADACs despite an order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government several years ago.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier urged barangay officials to show that they support the President’s war against drugs by activating their BADACs.
Based on reports from the DILG’s National Barangay Operations Office last year, 94 percent or 39,417 of the 42,036 barangays nationwide have organized their BADACs.
Of the 39,417 compliant barangays, 86 percent have organized their auxiliary teams. However, only 61 percent have formulated their BADAC Plans of Action.
PDEA records show that last year, out of the 24,424 drug-affected barangays, 15,290 are classified as slightly affected, 9,089 are moderately affected, while 45 barangays are seriously affected.
“This shows the magnitude of the problem that we all face. The President needs all the help he can get to rid our society of the drug menace. Our barangays, through the BADACs, will serve as the force multipliers of our law enforcement authorities at the street level,” Villafuerte said.