PALAYAN City -- Gov. Czarina “Cherry” D. Umali vowed to turn Nueva Ecija into a drug-free province but the war on illegal drugs should be “bloodless” and without lives being sacrificed through extra-judicial killings.
Speaking during a provincial anti-illegal drugs summit at the Nueva Ecija Convention Center here last Friday, Umali said the province has declared a total war against illegal drugs but it is a war of attrition against drug lords and a war of compassion for both addicts and pushers.
“No drug addict or pusher should be left in our province. I want them all eliminated. But before you think of anything, eliminating them is not by means of killing them but by showing them concern of a society wanting to reform them. Let’s launch a war of compassion for victims of drug abuse,” she said during the summit attended by some 3,000 people.
The summit was organized by the provincial government through the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PADAC) and the Provincial Task Force Against Illegal Drugs (PTFAID).
The PADAC is chaired by former three-term Gov. Aurelio M. Umali, the governor’s husband.
During the summit, the lady governor presented a framework to eradicate illegal drugs apart from the Oplan Tokhang of the Philippine National Police.
The framework employs a two-pronged approach consisting of the rehabilitation of drug dependents and the prevention of more people getting hooked to drugs.
Umali told the PNP that their role in the anti-drug campaign should be limited only to the arrest of suspects and the acceptance of drug surrenderees.
“Once drug victims have surrendered or have been arrested, it is now the role of the local government units and the various stakeholders to take care of them from rehabilitation to their re-integration into the mainstream of society and restoration,” she said.
Umali said aside from LGUs, also playing crucial roles in the rehab phase are the church, the school, the families, the national agencies and the non-government organizations.
“The idea is to bring back the dignity of the person, restore him back to the stage where he was once an active and productive member of the community. This is not merely rehabilitation and reintegration but restoration,” she added.
Umali said the provincial government intends to build “Bahay-Pag-asa” or rehab centers in all 27 towns and five cities of the province as well as embark on a massive information and education drive in schools and churches.
It will also mobilize the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Department of Education for skills training and livelihood projects for drug surrenderees.