Punchline

No drug arrests is bad news

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

 

IF Mayor Belen Fernandez thinks she is given the report that her city’s war on drugs is well underway, she’s being fed the wrong info, if our anonymous sources are to be believed.

There is one source who occasionally updates me, and gave me this recent troubling update. He/she said 3 drug suspects who were arrested were eventually released.  Two were released last month.

How is it possible that drug pushers caught in buy-bust operations are allowed to be set free? Possession of illegal drugs is non-bailable. Or was it because the police operatives involved and the evidence were suddenly “missing”? Or was the judge influenced? Our source asked me these seeming frustrations.

Then, our source, tells us of unhampered nightly trading of shabu and marijuana in Barangays Pantal and Bulosan with full knowledge of barangay officials, and yet both the Dagupan Police Station and the PDEA have been extremely quiet about those activities. NO arrests! Not even barangay officials have been confronted. He/she even identified the suspects whose names I have relayed to PDEA.

“Tuloy ang ligaya.” My source mocks us, the city police, PDEA and Mayor Belen. I guess that includes PD P/Sr. Superintendent Wilson Lopez!

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START DRUG TESTS IN CAMPUSES The move of the Philippine National Police and the Commission on Higher Education to launch anti-illegal drug operations in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) is timely and is welcomed by all parents!

Those opposed to it are the left-wing teachers and the students.

One can only wonder why the Alliance of Concerned Teachers  (ACT) would be opposed to it when their primary concern should be the welfare and healthcare of their students. Its opposition citing possible police abuses belies its true mandate, which is to be another  political unit of the left-wing Makabayan bloc – to oppose and oust a duly-constituted government.

What teacher would rather see drug addicts and a pusher in the campus than the sight of law enforcers inside campuses whose mission is to maintain and sustain peace and order ? Given its opposition to the drug campaign, one begins to wonder, is ACT now a protector of drug syndicates, in exchange for added stipend for the teachers?

I sure hope not.

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WHO ARE TEACHERS FOR? Curiously, ACT in Pangasinan has always been ominously silent each time a teacher is caught peddling drugs. It doesn’t condemn the teacher-cum-drug pusher and neither does it applaud our law enforcers for weeding out the criminals in their midst. Tsk-tsk.

What’s happening to our righteous teachers? Have they become so insensitive to the sufferings of families who have to put up with the illegal and often criminal activities of a brother or son, daughter or sister who is either involved in drug trade or a user or both?

Millions of parents  are seriously worried every day wondering  how their children are faring in their campuses. Could the peer pressure from friends who use drugs already be gaining on their children? They pray not!

The planned random testing is supported by parents because it gives them  assurance that government is doing for them what they cannot do to their children today.  At the same time, students who are not into drugs can find support for this campus policy. They can reject peer pressure to try and use drugs.

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PARENTS  & TEACHERS SHOULD UNITE. Personally, I wish the campaign launched by the PNP and CHED would go further, beyond random testing. It should also launch random search of students’ bags and vehicles for drugs.

The absence of drug supply in campuses will further make it difficult for the drug-using students to get their supply, and will be forced to get them on the streets. When that happens, university and school officials would have shifted the responsibility of overseeing welfare of students to the parents!

This is one valid reason why teachers in colleges and universities must support the campaign in their campuses. By supporting both the random testing and random search of drugs, they would be freed of responsibility of having to protect their students, and shift it instead to the parents at home.

What has already complicated the drug campaign is the Juvenile Justice Act of 2006 or Pangilinan Law that exempts children 15 years old and below from criminal liability and arrest.

The law has given drug syndicates the advantage to use children of drug pushers and users as peddlers and couriers who can operate inside campuses without fear of paying costs of bail and lawyers.

Parents and teachers of public elementary and high schools may not be aware that they have the power and influence to ask PDEA and PNP to conduct random search of school bags and random testing of students of drugs.

It is to the advantage and benefit of PTAs that they are supported by PDEA and PNP in protecting the students from the clutches of drug syndicates.

I do pray that our congress representatives, schools division heads and PTA chapters and federation will submit a united stand asking PDEA and the PNP to do random search and drug testing in their school campuses.

The province will have everything to gain, nothing to lose, from their stand – if they can do it.

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SIMPLIFY FARE ADJUSTMENTS. The continuous and never ending dilemma over public utility vehicle fares and when to adjust fare upward or downward is understandable.  It is based on one factor alone –  the price of fuel which is constantly a moving target.

In Manila, the LTFRB is being vilified by the public for approving a P10 minimum fare just two days before the price of fuel was reduced by another P1. The petition was based on recent increases by more than P2 price. And if the projection is reliable, the P10 minimum fare will likely stay even after another projected cut by another P2 by end of November, or the fuel price on which the P8 minimum fare was approved.

In the region, the price of fuel is P3.50 – P4 lower than the price of fuel in Metro Manila.

Given this situation, the LTFRB regional office will be roundly criticized by the riding public if the fare increase of P10-13 is approved. How can the region’s minimum fares be higher than Metro-Manila’s P10 when the price of fuel in the region is much lower that those in Metro Manila?

In fairness, however, to jeepney operators and drivers, they are made to suffer the brunt of increase in fuel prices while their petitions for an increase are being studied and debated in public hearings. To solve this dilemma for both parties, a matrix of fares based on announced prices of fuel be set.

Ex.: if diesel price is P45-48, the minimum fare should be P8; P49-52, P11 fare; P53-56, P12 fare, etc. Violation for overcharging will be P5,000.

This way, the only thing the public and LTFRB will do is to monitor and report overcharging by drivers and operators. With phone cameras, monitoring and reporting will be easy.

Life is too short to keep things complicated.

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