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Eastern Visayas anti-drug warriors dancing their way to people’s hearts

  • Written by Alfred P. Dalizon
  • Published in Nation
  • Read: 237

THE best dancers from the Eastern Visayas police regional office are now dancing their way to the hearts of the local community using their innovative dance moves to convince everybody that dancing, not drugs, is a better way to enjoy life in the region with over 4.5 million population.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa has praised the Police Regional Office 8 headed by Chief Superintendent Elmer C. Beltejar for having one of the “best practices” in the ongoing PNP anti-drug campaign and said those practices should serve as an example to other police regional units.
   
According to Beltejar ,of the Philippine Military Academy ‘Sandiwa’ Class of 1985, they already have their Pasay Loa Ako program and the Operation: Taphang of the Eastern Samar Police Provincial Office all aimed at helping combat illegal drug trafficking and abuse in the region which is known for its most famous landmark, the San Juanico Bridge, dubbed as the “most beautifully designed and longest bridge in the Philippines.”
   
Operation: Taphang is a program in which the local police have tapped the help of the best policemen-dancers in the province -- in dancing their way to the hearts of the local community, confessed drug users included and convincing  them to turn into dancing, not into drug trafficking or abuse.
   
Unknown to many, ‘Tinikling,’ the Philippines’ national dance, originated from Eastern Visayas although the most popular cultural dance among Warays is the Kuratsa, which is featured during feast and special gatherings.
   
Beltejar said although  Eastern Samar police members failed to win in the recent Police Got Talent Search, a yearly police dance and music competition, they decided to bring their dancing talents to the communities as they conduct their Oplan: Tokhang.
   
“Our policemen-dancers are strutting their dance steps during meetings, town conferences and fiestas with a message of peace and a big ‘no to drugs,” Beltejar said.
 
The policemen distribute anti-drug awareness leaflets in the streets and the barangays while dancing and later hold dialogs with the community.
   
“So far, our policemen-dancers have enticed a big number of drug users and dealers to submit themselves for registration with a promise they will mend their ways,” the Eastern Visayas police director said.
   
Beltejar said that by showing their dance moves, the policemen-dancers have been influencing a great number of drug personalities in the province to yield.  “Dancing   to   argue,   persuade   and   advice   has become a big hit in the province and has prompted many to surrender,” he said.
   
Operation: Taphang is a brainchild of the local police director who wanted to choreograph the life of a drug dealer and user from the day he turns himself over to the police and lead a normal life.
   
“This is the change we are talking of. It’s already benefiting the entire Eastern Visayas region with many drug personalities surrendering after realizing the ill-effects of drugs and the advantages of surrendering to the police,” Beltejar said.
     
PRO8 records showed that there are at least 3,523 drug personalities listed under the drug watchlist of the police and Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils in the region.
   
The surrenderers from Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran,  Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Ormoc City and Tacloban City underwent the required processing including orientation and signing of affidavit. They also took their oaths not to engage again in illegal drug activities.
   
The crackdown against drugs in Eastern Visayas has caught national attention following the identification of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and his son Kerwin as major drug personalities in the region. The mayor, already stripped of his power over the local police, is now being secured by the Albuera police after he made the request due to reported threats to his life. His son remains at large.

Last August 23, unidentified gunmen shot and killed the Espinosas’ lawyer, Rogelio Bato Jr., and his companion, a female Grade 9 student, in Tacloban City.
   
Beltejar recently pinned the Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting to Police Officer 1 Nestor Peru Villanueva Jr., a member of the Marabut Municipal Police Station in Samar who was wounded in a firefight with notorious drug dealer Ernesto Gonzales last August 24.