More than 17,000 anti-drug advocates participated in a walk that marked the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (IDADAIT) in Bacolod City Monday [June 26], based on crowd estimate by the police.
Senior Supt. Jack Wanky, OIC of the Bacolod City Police Office, said the crowd assembled at two points—Lupit Church at Lizares Avenue and Provincial Capitol Lagoon and Park—and converged at the Bacolod Public Plaza for a program.
The IDADAIT is being observed internationally every June 26 based on the United Nations Resolution No. 42-112 signed in 1987, and in the Philippines based on Proclamation No. 264 signed in 1988, “as an expression of its [United Nations] determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drugs.”
In the Philippines, the observance of the IDADAIT is being spearheaded by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB). With the theme, “LISTEN FIRST: Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe,” this year’s IDADAIT celebration was hosted by Bacolod City.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia, in his welcome address, thanked the DDB for choosing Bacolod City as the first city outside of Luzon to host the IDADAIT.
The DDB was represented by its executive director, Undersecretary Ma. Belen Angelita Matibag; board member, Undersecretarty Felipe Rojas; and deputy executive director for Operations, Assistant Secretary Earl Saavedra.
In his message, Saavedra said the DDB has chosen Bacolod City to host IDADAIT as it “has good practices in terms of drug abuse prevention and control” and its “Anti-Drug Abuse Council is very active and there is a convergence among the local government, public and also private institutions.”
Leonardia said, “We hope to see that this will start a stronger and more productive teamwork between the local government and with the Dangerous Drugs Board and concerned government agencies in the battle against drug abuse.”
House Deputy Speaker, Negros Occidental 6th District Rep. Mercedes Alvarez, who was the guest speaker, emphasized the importance of communication in the family and good education among the youth in combating illegal drugs.
“Let us not allow other people to hurt our children, and one way of protecting them is to listen to them, listen to their aspirations, to their joy, to their concerns and another way of protecting them is to send them to school,” she said.
Education is very important, such that drug abuse among the youth could be prevented if we educate them and if we properly nurture them, she stressed.
Matibag, in her message, said, “There is no need to reintroduce drug dependency as a societal menace. What many need to know again is that drug dependency can be prevented and treated.”
“We continue to pursue our comprehensive and holistic strategy against illegal drugs. Drug supply is the offense we have against drugs, and drug demand stands as our defense along with civic awareness and alternative development,” she added.
“Today, as we commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, I hope that we all take to heart the commitment to the fight against drugs. It all starts in each of us. We can start making sure that our doors do not let drugs in, that our neighborhood remain free of drugs and that as a country, we remain one towards attaining a drug-resistant and eventually a drug-free Philippines,” she concluded.
Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya, in his speech, enjoined Bacoleños to unite against the illegal drugs abuse. He also thanked the DDB for the proposed establishment of a drug rehabilitation center in Bacolod in coordination with the city government.
Meanwhile, organizers also held a poster-slogan making contest. They also awarded the Bacolod City National High School as the group with the biggest delegation, and Barangay Tangub as the most colorful delegation.
Also gracing the event were Bacolod Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, Regional Directors Roselyn Borja of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency- Negros Island Region (NIR) and Chief Supt. Edmund Gonzales of Police Regional Office- NIR, PDEA Deputy Regional Director Wardley Getalia; Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Bacolod OIC-Director Carmelo Orbista; San Pedro (Laguna) Councilor Lito Roa Marquez; and Bacolod Task Force IDADAIT officers—Secretary to the Mayor Edward Joseph Cuansing, Executive Assistant Celestino Guara Jr. and DDB Focal Person Richard Nessia. – with Bacolod City PIO