MALASIQUI, Pangasinan -- The municipality of Malasiqui on Friday joined eight other towns and one city in Pangasinan province officially declared as drug-free by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Malasiqui has 73 barangays, at least 61 of which were drug-affected.
Malasiqui Police deputy chief, Insp. Dennis Ballitoc, said the municipality already complied with all the requirements of the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PADAC).
Aside from this, its 752 confessed drug personalities have passed the drug dependency examination conducted by the rural health unit (RHU) with validation from the PDEA, resulting in the declaration of the town as a drug- free municipality.
According to local police records, the 752 confessed drug users surrendered under “Oplan Tokhang” in 2016 and took their oath by signing a pledge of commitment to reform themselves by undergoing moral and spiritual counseling to finally shun illegal drugs in their lives.
This is why the police now call the confessed drug personalities as "reformists".
The ceremony declaring Malasiqui as drug-free was held at the town's auditorium, attended by Director James Fadrilan of the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) office in the Ilocos region.
After announcing the new status of Malasiqui as a drug-free town, Fadrilan thanked the reformed drug personalities for choosing the path towards positive change and went on to urge everyone in the town to continue to be vigilant against illegal drugs.
"Thank you for taking the path toward change. We need unity and cooperation. We need to strengthen the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council. All must have a part in change that will benefit us all," Fadrilan said in Filipino.
He also assured livelihood opportunities for the reformed drug personalities to ensure their successful return to mainstream society.
“The reformists will undergo after-care and this will be handled by the LGU, TESDA, DSWD, DENR and DPWH and all other government agencies, which could provide livelihood and job opportunities for them,” Fadrilan said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Noel Anthony Geslani thanked all the people for their help so that the town can achieve the goal of a drug-free municipality.
PDEA declared Malasiqui as drug-free after a thorough validation by its oversight committee composed of the DILG, Department of Health, and other government agencies.
The Pangasinan Police set the end of December as its self-imposed deadline to make Pangasinan a drug- free province.
It has already cleared all towns and cities of Pangasinan of illegal drugs as of November 17, except for eight barangays in San Fabian, Mangatarem, and San Carlos City.
These are subject to validation by PDEA. (Hilda Austria /PNA)