Local officials warned against neglect in anti-illegal drug campaign
Iloilo City (4 February) -- Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ronaldo Puno recently warned local officials who are negligent or remiss in their duties in the government's campaign against illegal drugs.
"Local chief executives could face administrative and criminal charges should they be found negligent or remiss in their duties in the all-out campaign against illegal drugs in their respective communities," said Puno in a DILG press report.
Puno issued the warning as he reminded local officials, from Punong Barangay to Governors, of their duty under the law to allocate a substantial portion of their annual budgets to help win the war against this menace.
Puno, in a memorandum circular, also called on local officials to ensure that their respective ant-drug abuse councils (ADACS) are functioning and that the provisions of the anti-dangerous drugs law are being strictly enforced at their respective levels.
The circular covers all provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays, except those in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
"I want to judge the success of this circular by the number of local executives we will be able to suspend or remove from office in the coming year (for their failure to wipe out the drug menace in their respective communities) and we will ensure that this menace will be once and for all addressed very, very directly," said Puno.
Puno added that local officials may be administratively charged if they fail to act on cases of adverse reports from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) or the Philippine National Police (PNP) on the illegal sale of narcotics, rampant delivery and use of such illegal drugs and the discovery of marijuana plantations, laboratories of shabu and other illegal substances in their respective communities.
"Local officials may be charged administratively for gross negligence or dereliction of duty as may be warranted by evidence," Puno said in his circular, adding "Such inaction, despite knowledge of the PDEA or PNP adverse reports, shall be considered prima facie evidence for the said administrative charges."
Puno also warned them that "any local official engaged in the sale, delivery, transportation and use of illegal drugs or who may have benefited there from shall be dealt with criminally and administratively pursuant to RA 9165."
Under this law, Puno also noted that appropriating a substantial share of the local annual budget for the anti-illegal drugs campaign is a "mandatory requirement."
"Accordingly, failure to include such appropriations in the Annual Budget of every Local Government Unit shall be a ground to disapprove the said Annual Budget on review," Puno stated in his circular.
He added further that failure to include such appropriation in the said Annual Budget can subject the local officials concerned to a possible administrative charge of dereliction of duty.
Puno said the provincial governor should ensure that component city mayors and municipal mayors perform their mandated tasks and responsibilities as stated under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, his Circular and other DILG issuances, including the creation and activation of ADACs at all levels.
On the part of city and municipal mayors, they should, among other responsibilities, call on the local PNP, as part of their powers of operational supervision and control over the local police, to conduct periodic or unannounced on-site inspection of dens, resorts, bars, karaoke bars, nightclubs and other establishments or houses suspected of being used as drug dens or place of sale or delivery of illegal drugs.
As for the Punong Barangays, Puno said, they should identify drug-affected house clusters, work places, streets, puroks and sitios where the delivery, sale or use of illegal drugs are being conducted and to report these immediately to the PNP or PDEA; and extend necessary assistance and cooperation, from operations up to prosecution, to the PDEA and PNP authorities in its operation against illegal drugs.
It will be recalled that early this year, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has committed to reward with development projects any LGU that can declare itself a drug-free zone to sustain their efforts and ensure a brighter future for the children and communities. (PIA) [top]