It’s high time we heard from a local, a true Bacolodnon, about Bacolod life and a local point of view. The author of the following article is Butch Bacaoco a former editor-in-chief of the Bacolod SunStar.

He writes authoritatively about Bacolod, local issues and the island of Negros. He also writes about the sugar cane industry in this island. I plan to feature some of his articles here from time to time with the kind permission of Butch.

A word first, if any of these articles refer to local or national Filipino politics then do not expect me to comment. I am a guest here and an observer, nothing more nothing less.

I am sure you will find the article, and those to come, interesting and informative.

This piece first appeared in the Negros Daily Bulletin:


CANE POINTS: WHAT TO DO WITH DRUG SURRENDEREES?

During the launch of Kilusan sa Pagbabago (Movement for Change) in Loboc, Bohol last Saturday (July 16), keynote speaker Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco mentioned that the drug surrenderees in the country have reached more than 70,000 as of July 14.

Negros Occidental accounts for more than 6,000 surrenderees while the eastern side of the island reported almost 6,500 drug users and pushers who gave themselves up to the authorities.

Negros accounts for almost 18% of the national tally. Shouldn’t we be proud?

Those numbers cover just the first two weeks under the new administration. More surrenderees are expected to emerge, as President Duterte’s war on drugs intensifies and dead bodies continue to pad the list of extrajudicial killings, perpetrated either by vigilantes or drug personalities themselves who want to silence those who might rat out on them.

“Your President will not let you down! He will fulfill his campaign promises to you!” declared Evasco, as he spoke in Bisaya to his fellow Boholanos.

Evasco, the number two guy in MalacaƱang, twitted the senators who want to launch an investigation on what they consider as the alarming number of fatalities in the anti-drugs campaign.

“What did they do about the drug menace during their previous term?” he rhetorically asked.

Indeed, these people have now admitted their ties with the organized illegal drug trade by becoming the champions for the rights of drug users, drug pushers and drug lords.

These senators don’t care about the lives, hopes and aspirations of entire families destroyed by the scourge of illegal drugs. All they care about is the kickback they can get as protectors of the illegal drugs trade.

Evasco reiterated that the campaign against illegal drugs will continue without let up, that it will be bloody and that many will die.

“If you have friends and relatives who are involved in drugs, persuade them to surrender,” he urged the Duterte campaign leaders, the Diehard Duterte Supporters who, thru Kilusan sa Pagbabago, are now the grassroots vehicle and mass-based partner of the Duterte administration in carrying out its campaign promises.

What to do with the growing number of drug surrenderees?

“Those who are severely addicted will have to undergo center-based rehabilitation,” said Evasco. Those whose addiction is within manageable levels will be subjected to community-based rehabilitation, he added, intimating that government will come up with measures to address the lack of rehab facilities in the country.

Evasco said that the DILG, thru the barangay chairman and other barangay officials, will spearhead this community-based rehabilitation program.

Barangay officials know the drug pushers and drug users in their barangay, but they turn a blind eye to the drug problem, according to Evasco. These officials should make amends by being at the forefront of the fight against drugs.

Under the community-based rehab program, the drug users will be monitored to ensure that they no longer use drugs and that they no longer associated with known drug users and pushers. Barangay officials are in the best position to do this, as they know the people in their area, said Evasco.

Other government agencies, like the DOH and DSWD, should also participate by providing medical check-up and assistance to the drug dependents and counselling to their families.

Evasco explained that drug dependents can be made to work in projects that will benefit their community. They can help in road projects, building construction, community clean-up and similar activities in the barangay.

Whenever applicable, we can make them engage in farming, he added. By keeping themselves busy working up a sweat and munching on leaves, they might be able to forget their craving for illegal drugs.

Evasco also admitted that some drug dependents might not cooperate with the rehab program. In that case, they can be given the privilege to serve the country as fertilizer for the soil.*