Philippines Report

‘Most shabulized city’ wins award for antidrug drive

ILOILO CITY—Once described by President Rodrigo Duterte as the country’s “most shabulized” city and the “bedrock of illegal drugs,” Iloilo City has received recognition from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for its successful campaign against illegal drugs, chiefly “shabu” (crystal meth).

The city was among 241 local governments that were given the National Anti-Drug Abuse Council (Adac) Performance Award by the DILG in rites held on Dec. 28 at the Manila Hotel.

The award is given to a local government that scores a “high functionality” rating based on an Adac performance audit in 2017.

The performance parameters include the organization of the local Adac, implementation of antidrug plans and programs, allocation of funds for the effort, holding quarterly meetings and support of local governments, according to a DILG statement.

Twenty-one of the awardees each got a perfect score of 100 points while the 220 others, including Iloilo City, garnered between 85 and 99 points.

Iloilo was among only five local governments and the only city in Western Visayas that received the award.

‘Doing our best’

“This is a manifestation that Iloilo City’s Adac is functioning well and that we at the council are doing our best in order to sustain our drive against [the] illegal drugs campaign in support [of] the campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Mayor Jose Espinosa III said in a statement.

Espinosa promised to continue the effort for “as long as there is someone in our city who is engaged in illegal drug activities.”

Many Ilonggos had resented the “most shabulized” tag, saying the city’s illegal drug situation is similar to or better than most cities in the country.

In addition to the DILG award, the interagency Regional Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug-Clearing Operation has also declared several of the city’s 180 villages drug-free.

The Dangerous Drugs Board considers a village free of illegal drugs if it has no drug supply and no transit or transshipment occurring. The village also must have no drug laboratories and warehouses, drug dens, marijuana cultivation sites, users and pushers and drug protectors and financiers.

Barangay officials also should be active in antidrug activities and have drug awareness programs, plus a “voluntary and compulsory drug treatment and rehabilitation processing desk.”

Duterte accusation

Mr. Duterte had accused Iloilo City’s former mayor, Jed Patrick Mabilog, of being a “drug protector,” an allegation Mabilog had repeatedly denied.

The former mayor has not returned to the country after he attended an international conference in Malaysia and Japan in September 2017 due to fears for his security amid the President’s allegations and the killings of several local officials on Mr. Duterte’s list of so-called narcopoliticians.

Mabilog’s wife and their son and daughter have joined him abroad. The family’s whereabouts are unknown.

Rehab program

On Oct. 30, 2017, the DILG removed Mabilog from office in compliance with a dismissal order from the Office of the Ombudsman, which found him guilty of serious dishonesty in declaring the value of his wealth.

No illegal drug case, however, has been filed against him.

Before his dismissal, Mabilog and the city government initiated a grassroots rehabilitation program for drug dependents called “Crossroads” amid a surge in the number of suspected drug users and pushers who surrendered to authorities.

More than 700 drug dependents have completed the program.

The Philippine National Police in Western Visayas in 2016 initiated the first police camp-based rehabilitation program for hundreds of drug dependents and recovering drug addicts at the regional police headquarters.

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