The plight of detained drug pushers

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


IDENTIFYING and arresting drug pushers is only the first phase of the war on drugs, not the means and the end of the campaign.

While we are focused on the numbers game (how may many arrested, killed, etc?)  and declarations of towns and cities as drug-free, the phase of the campaign other than the reformative stage that is ignored if not completely forgotten, is the plight of arrested drug suspects who are detained in our jails and detention centers.

As the PNP and BJMP officials in the province will attest, our jails and detention cells are already over-crowded by at least 250% over original planned occupancy of cells. A cell built for 50 is now occupied by 125 persons! And 70% of the cases involving the detainees are drug offences. The situation for the detainees packed like sardines will continue to worsen as the war waged on drugs continues, more being arrested each week.

Even trial court judges admit that their dockets are clogged with drug cases involving suspected drug pushers.

Our national and local governments must act with dispatch to alleviate the situation. The worst that can happen to the war on drugs is to see inmates and detainees either killing each other for space or dying from lung, skin and heart diseases.

It has become imperative, therefore, for both executive and legislative bodies of local governments to plan on expanding existing or constructing new facilities to reduce overcrowding and anticipate the detention of more drug suspects in the months and years ahead.

If they don’t, they will only have themselves to blame for needless deaths of inmates. No justice there.

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POLICE VISIBILTY STILL CRITICAL. It’d appear that our Pangasinan PNP suddenly became silent about the progress of the campaign to enforce all ordinances (Remember Oplan RODY?) in an effort to curb crimes against persons and properties, particularly in the province’s 4 cities.

I gathered that the PNP has tasked the barangays to be the frontliners in enforcing the applicable ordinances in their communities. While this can be an effective approach to create initial awareness, it cannot be expected to be effective. How so?”

Barangays are small communities where most everyone knows who lives where. It cannot work simply because familiarity in a community not only breeds contempt but laxity and leniency in enforcement until it leads to a scandal in the communities. 

Given, this truism, our police must continue to take the driver’s seat if only to impress upon residents that there are laws that must be obeyed and there are penalties to be imposed.  Can one expect a barangay tanod or a kapitan to file a case against a known member of the community? Not in your life. But the police can and should file the cases if the law has to be respected at all times.

At any rate, the effectiveness of this tact can be measured by the crime indices over a period. An increase in crime rate would mean the barangays were not helpful.   

Note that Pangasinan PNP already showed the positive effects of what was labeled earlier as Oplan Rody –  a drop in crimes by 20% in two weeks!

Meanwhile, the police can still help sustain the awareness for the campaign by the presence of roving patrol cars 24/7 in all the barangays.

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DISPOSABLE MOTHERS? I was struck by one meme that appeared on Facebook last week. It read: “A mother can take care of 10 children but sometimes 10 children can’t take care of their mother.”

The thought never occurred to me. It jarred my mind. Would children today, indeed, abandon their aging mothers at the drop of the hat, their mothers that raised them singlehandedly through thick and thin, through sickness and in health?

As I reflected on it, I came to the realization that this is already happening.  I have seen sons and daughters who decided to live on their own, with families of their own who’ve completely forgotten and ignored the plight of their mothers.

I remember asking one young man, already with two kids of his own, “How’s your mom?”  He looked at me with a blank stare and sheepishly said: “I guess she’s ok…”

It meant he had not seen nor called her to look into her needs.  How was it possible that his mother who doted on him till he got married that this son would simply take his mother’s life for granted, as he would to his schoolmate.

And I’m not certain if that mindset was the result of the absence of Good Manners and Right Conduct subjects when today’s young adults were in school.

Perhaps, blame should also be owned by today’s parents who have shown little importance or spent little time bonding with their children as they were growing, and their children soon accepted that it’s the way family life is –  that emotional bonding stops at a certain stage.

I dread the thought for my granddaughters when their own children begin to see them as a burden even they are just in their 40s.  Imagine the drastic changes in lifestyles in various stages when there are less emotional bonds, when relationships are deemed dispensable that could be discarded for material reasons.

Will the day come for them when burying them has become the responsibility of government, and not of their children?

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WATCH THE RIVER BANKS. Will flooding in Dagupan City already be accepted as a normal and regular occurrence during typhoons and high tide?

I’m afraid it will be but it doesn’t have to be if we and our city government can help it.  To help it, we must acknowledge the causes and solutions if we want to avert continuous flooding whether on account of a storm or high tide.

First, it has long been established that we need to have our rivers dredged deeper. The silt at the bottom of our rivers inevitably rise over the years because of commercial activities, i.e., legit and illegal fishing, and smaller volume of water running down the mountains. How deep are we dredging our main rivers?

The development of commercial districts in Dagupan City in areas bounded by rivers are seeing many fish ponds being converted into commercial lands with massive backfilling. This effectively narrows the width of river banks and level of water will naturally have to rise should there be a natural occurrence of more water passing through the river.

What we considered then as normal level of water at high tide that didn’t pose any threat of flooding will already surely flood areas today because our rivers can no longer accommodate the volume of water to keep it inside the constricted riverbanks.

I hope the city government will soon strictly enforce the laws governing against encroachment of our riverbanks. Landowners who encroached on the river may yet suffer what the resort owners in Boracay were made to do – to demolish their structures.

Note the fishponds lining the Jose de Venecia Expressway (bypass) Road, these are visibly being backfilled hurriedly. The more fishponds disappear, the higher the level of flooding will be.

If we don’t arrest the unplanned development of trade centers through backfilled fishponds, soon rubber boats will become a necessity for transport around the city, a la Venice.  

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