The Naga City Government (NCG), under the leadership of Mayor John G. Bongat, is trailblazing an innovative and effective approach to fight drug abuse in the city. Adopting a four-pronged strategy of legislation, institutionalization, community involvement, and networking, the city’s campaign is starting to bear fruit.
Naga City has enacted a comprehensive set of ordinances that effectively pursue the provisions of Republic Act No. 9165 (R.A. 9165) entitled “An Act Instituting the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Repealing Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as Amended, Providing Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes” enacted in the Philippines last June 7, 2002.
The ordinances are also premised on Section 458 (a) (1)(v) of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, which states that “the Sangguniang Panglungsod, as the Legislative Body of the city, shall enact ordinances xxx for the general welfare of the city and its inhabitants and shall:(1) Approve ordinances and pass resolutions necessary for an efficient and effective city government and in this connection shall: (v) Enact ordinances intended to prevent and suppress drug addiction, maintenance of drug dens, drug pushing and such other activities inimical to the welfare and morals of the inhabitants of the city and impose appropriate penalties thereof.
Thus, the following ordinances enacted by the Naga City Government (NGC) have also become the foundation for the various anti-drug abuse programs, projects, and activities in the city:
Naga City Ordinance No. 2001-064 entitled “An Ordinance Creating the Naga City Dangerous Drugs Board (NCDDB) and Appropriating Funds Therefor” authored by then City Councilor and now incumbent City Mayor John G. Bongat enacted last 22 August 2001. The ordinance established “a local over-all consultative, multi-sectoral body that serves as the exclusive policy-making, monitoring and coordinating body on the prevention and control of drug abuse in Naga City and for the execution of the programs and projects under the Ordinance, with the end in view of formulating and implementing short-term, long-term and sustainable solutions to the drug problem.”
Naga City Ordinance No. 2001-065 entitled “An Ordinance Creating the Life Improvement thru Friendly Education Counselling Center (L.I.F.E. Counselling Center), Defining its Powers and Functions, and Appropriating Funds Therefor” authored by then City Councilor and now incumbent City Mayor John G. Bongat enacted last 22 August 2001. The ordinance established the L.I.F.E. Counselling Center which “provides confidential, competent and reliable counselling services to drug users who have not yet reached the stage of drug addiction or dependence and are ready and willing to totally abandon drugs and return to normal life,”
Naga City Ordinance No. 2002-003 entitled “Adopting the Mechanics of Antidrugs Stickering Program” authored by then City Councilor and now incumbent City Mayor John G. Bongat and enacted last 9 January 2002.
Naga City Ordinance No. 2005-084 entitled “Ordinance Declaring the Third Week of November of every Year as the “Naga City Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week” in line with the Nationwide Observance of Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week Held Annually Every Month of November” authored by then City Councilor and now incumbent City Mayor John G. Bongat enacted last 24 october 2005. This ordinance required the annual and continuing advocacy of NCG to lead the various campaigns, programs and projects to combat drug abuse and prevent the proliferation of illegal drugs in the city.
The Sangguniang Panlungsod, at the moment, is in the process of consolidating all these existing and proposed ordinances into a comprehensive antidrug abuse program.
Given the policy imperatives set by RA 9165, RA 7160, and the city ordinances, the NCG has now activated and operated the NCDDB and LIFE Counselling Center.
As an inter-agency and multi-sectoral body, NCDDB regularly convenes either en banc or as working committees to assess, plan, and implement antidrug initiatives. LIFE Center is composed of volunteer guidance counsellors from various colleges and universities of the city. A memorandum of agreement between the NCG and these educational institutions have been inked to guide the involvement of the counsellors.NCG has also initiated the rehabilitation program support that include financial assistance for indigent families who voluntarily submit their kins for treatment. A sustained education and information activities is also being undertaken in the community, barangay, and schools.
Support to the PNP and PDEA are also provided by the NCG to enhance their capabilities. NCDDB works closely with the intelligence operatives of PNP and with the field agents of PDEA. Logistical support and equipment for the operatives are also provided, whenever possible.
A unique feature of Naga City’s comprehensive anti-drug abuse program is the active involvement of the community. Drawing inspiration from the city’s pioneering experience on people’s participation in governance, the anti-drug campaign encourages strong participation by various stakeholders from the civil society organizations and private sector. A multitude of individuals and organizations have partnered with the Naga City Government in this campaign as reflected in the variety of organizations involved in the activity: business groups, media organizations, academic institutions, professional organizations, religious organizations, non-government organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs).
The types of involvement of these organizations and even that of individual Naguenos include the following: active membership to NCDDB and/or its working committees; volunteers of the LIFE Center; members of the Barangay Antidrug Abuse Councils (BADAC); members of the Barkadahan Kontra Droga!; and providers of feedbacks/information on drug-related concerns.
The variety of opportunities provided for citizen participation in the anti-drug abuse campaign generated an impetus for mode dynamic and efficient approach to combating drug abuse in the locality. It also became a unique strategy that puts premium on community engagement in reducing both the supply and demand for prohibited drugs in every barangay.
The campaign against drug abuse is not being pursued by Naga City alone. NCG has linked with the Dangerous Drugs Board and PDEA on the national level. Mutual support mechanisms have either been undertaken or are being explored to further strengthen the campaign in Naga City.
Information and educational materials have been supplied by the PDEA. Trainings for judges, enforcers, as well as barangay officials have been jointly undertaken in the locality. Upcoming trainings include a leadership camp for the youth and a separate training camp for parents.
Coordination with other agencies such as the DILG and PNP are also in place. Capability-building interventions and intelligence consolidation for the locality has been facilitated by the DILG. Several inter-agency coordination meetings have also been conducted in the national level to provide a broader perspective and support on the anti-drug abuse campaign being waged in Naga City.
Private institutions are also becoming indispensable partners in the campaign.
As a result of this four-pronged strategy, the following significant accomplishments are becoming evident:
Intelligence, apprehension, and prosecution of drug dealers: NGC has provided support to the PNP intelligence operatives in the form of equipment and mobility. PDEA has also been assisted in setting up a field office in Naga City. The community, specifically the barangay officials and residents have also taken active roles in information generation, resulting to wider and more grounded intelligence materials for the enforcement agencies. Consequently, the apprehension, filing of cases, prosecution, and convictions also improved. NCDDB has also assisted in facilitating random drug testing for various government agencies.
Early intervention, rehabilitation and aftercare for drug users: Aside from setting up the NCDDB, the NCG has initiated the Life Improvement thru Friendly Education (L.I.F.E.) Counselling Center which primarily aims to provide early intervention for drug dependent individuals and their respective families. A significant number of individuals and families have also been assisted in the processing and completion of rehabilitation treatment for drug users. This is significantly enhanced by the NCG’s coordination and partnership with the rehabilitation centers, specifically those located in San Fernando, Camarines Sur and Malinao, Albay. Several visits to these facilities have also been undertaken by the NCDDB. NCG is now in the process of organizing the individual Naguenos who have successfully completed the treatment programs in these centers.
Public information, campaigns, and education for the community: Various fora and symposia have been undertaken in the barangays, schools, colleges, and universities. A continuing visitation and dialogue with the BADAC in every barangay is also a very effective method for sustaining community involvement. A fun run against drug abuse was successfully held in 2011. The community organizing of Barkadahan Kontra Droga! and of the Barangay Astig! is also instrumental in educating the residents and eliciting people’s participation. The active participation of KBP and local media has become an indispensable element in the information drive. Several media programs are being worked out by the NCG and KBP-Camarines Sur.
The present initiatives of NCG to address drug-related issues and problems are barely a year old but have generated encouraging results. The community-driven, people-oriented approach in pursuing comprehensive and well-planned programs within existing legal and legislative frameworks is once again proving to be a very potent formula for relevant, effective, and meaningful governance.
In the long-term, Naga City sees the declaration of most or all of its barangays as drug-free!