Brgy chiefs involved in drugs under surveillance

The Daily Tribune| Written by: Pat C. Santos| March 22, 2017

Several barangay chairmen in Manila who were confirmed to be involved in drugs are now being closely watched, Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada yesterday said.

Estrada added the surveillance is part of evidence-gathering efforts of the Manila Police District (MPD) to pin down these elected barangay officials and expose their alleged links to drug syndicates, including those confirmed to be drug dependents.

“Under surveillance ‘yung iba,” the Manila mayor revealed in an interview when asked what was being done to barangay chairmen who had tested positive for drug use and those who had long been under investigation for their reported involvement in drug trafficking.

While declining to give further details so as not to jeopardize the operations, Estrada reiterated his earlier assurance to publicly name those barangay chairmen in due time.

“Hindi muna natin papangalanan. We need complete evidence,” he said, adding criminal and administrative charges await the unscrupulous barangay officials, from chairmen to kagawad, aside from dismissal from government service.

Last November, Estrada ordered the mandatory drug testing of 7,168 elected barangay officials in the city’s 896 barangays as part of his continuing campaign to eliminate drugs in the capital city.

In an earlier statement, Estrada confirmed that “some” barangay chairmen had tested positive for drug use; they had so far been subjected to confirmatory drug tests at the East Avenue Medical Center.

Estrada said the drug test results are now with the Manila Health Department, Manila Barangay Bureau and MPD.

Estrada and the 36-member city council, including Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna, had subjected themselves to drug testing at the city hall on August 18. None tested positive.

It was the first time in recent years that a city mayor voluntarily submitted himself to a drug test which was also the first ever to be conducted at the Manila City Hall.

Estrada’s move to subject barangay officials to mandatory drug test was also an offshoot of last October’s anti-drug operation at the Islamic Center, Quiapo where incumbent Barangay 648 Chairman Faiz Macabato was killed after fighting it out with policemen who were about to serve an arrest warrant to his drug suspect-brother.

On Friday, March 24, Estrada is set to grace the joint graduation of 4,000 Grades 5 and 6 students who completed the 10-hour Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program handled by specially-trained police officers. The Joint Culminating Program is scheduled at 10 a.m. at San Andres Sports Complex.

Estrada introduced DARE to the country in 1993 and revived it in Manila to keep students away from drugs and other harmful vices. The program is designed as a “demand reduction strategy” of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.