Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. on Saturday called on local authorities in Zamboanga City to beef up efforts to protect its coastlines from the entry of illegal drugs. Abalos made the call as he led the launch of the ‘Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan’ (BIDA) program here, bringing together all sectors in the fight against illegal drugs. ‘Mayor (John) Dalipe told me the problem here in Zamboanga City is its large coastline. So, there is a need to strengthen seaborne and coastal patrol here,’ he said. ‘We must check on our borders because the worst part of it is we might become the dumping ground of illegal drugs.’ Abalos said he would coordinate with the Philippine Coast Guard to assist local authorities in guarding the coastline and prevent the entry of drugs and smuggling other contraband. He urged the local police to strengthen also its intelligence operation against illegal drugs and criminalities as he underscored the goal of the BIDA program that promotes a holistic campaign against illegal drugs. The program involves the participation of partner national government agencies, local government units, private sectors, faith-based organizations, and civil society organizations in the campaign against illegal drugs. BIDA, which began in October 2022, is a response to the order of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to strengthen the government’s anti-drug campaign by focusing on arresting drug lords, rehabilitating users, and reducing demand. Meanwhile, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) Director Laurefel Gabales reported during the launch of the BIDA program that 1,334 of the 1,904 barangays in the region have been drug-cleared. Gabales said 455 barangays remain drug-affected, while 115 are certified unaffected barangays in the region.
Source: Philippines News Agency