Symposium on the Prevention of Drug Addiction through Responsible Parenthood and Youth Leadership

Speech at Sacred Heart Academy

Mrs. Maxima DR. Castillo, Assistant Principal for Academic Affairs; Ms. Yolanda Villanueva, Assistant Principal for Student Affairs; PSupt. Rodolfo Hernandez, Atty Marian Jo Mercado, students, parents, guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Let me start with a sad quote and two tragic stories of today:

Somebody said not too long ago and I quote: “Sometimes a parent grieves for the loss of a child that is still alive.” 

The first tragic story was about the son of a decorated Constabulary general who killed 2 motorists and wounded another while the victims’ van was stalled along a busy street in Quezon City. Jose Abaya had paranoia, purportedly as a result of drug abuse. He suspected that the victims would drag him back to the rehabilitation center.

The second involved a 23-year-old bride-to-be named Rachelle, was found dead from 70 stab wounds in her condominium last week. The suspect was a stoned delivery boy who claimed that he could not stand another day with Rachelle mocking him.

Jose and Rachelle represented thousands of lost and damaged lives because of substance abuse in the country.

When you are young, as what you are right now, your experiences become fragments of intense and haunting excitement, depression, torment, happiness and anxiety. Your limbo of emotions makes you vulnerable to what you are made to believe as a “quick fix”.

Often, this quick fix comes in capsulated street drugs in varying shapes and colors among the young and rich, and plastic-sealed rugby inhalants among the “solvent boys” inhabiting Metro Manila.

There is no doubt that the problem of substance abuse remains one of the major social problems in the Philippines. Based on an article written by Atty Rita Linda Jimeno published in a daily broadsheet last Monday, September 07, and based on official records, “the Philippine National Police recently reported that 75 percent of the most heinous crimes are drug-related while 65 percent of inmates in prisons are either accused, or convicted, of drug-related crimes. Based on data from the Philippine Judicial Academy, no less than 70 percent of crimes being tried in courts (in fact, clogging court dockets) are drug-related.”

Sadly, the use of illegal drugs thrives despite the stiff penalties imposed by the law on the distribution, sale and consumption of prohibited substances in the country.

Thus, I appreciate Sacred Heart Academy’s initiative in organizing symposiums like this not only to heighten the youth and the parents’ awareness about drug prevention, but also to forge a dynamic partnership between students and families in the collective effort to combat drug abuse and ultimately, build drug-free communities.

Sa tuwing may nagtatanong sa akin kung paano masusugpo ang lumalalang problema dahil sa ipinagbabawal na gamot, dalawang pamamaraan lamang ang aking isinasagot–una, market or supply constriction at pangalawa, demand reduction.

Market or supply constriction deals with the control and/or restriction in the supply chain of illegal and controlled drugs and substances from manufacturing, production and trade, while demand reduction deals with the prevention of drug misuse and the rehabilitation of drug users.

Sa simpleng pananalita, pagdating sa ipinagbabawal na gamot–walang bibili kung walang magbebenta at walang magbebenta kung walang bibili.

 

MARKET CONSTRICTION

Market constriction is an essential component of a strategic approach to drug prevention and control.

Pigilan at ipitin ang pinanggagalingan ng droga para hindi na umabot pa sa mga posibleng gagamit nito.

Our youth faces numerous threats not only from within their own households but more so, as soon as they step outside the confines of their homes. It is a truism that parents cannot supervise their children 24/7. Peer pressure, among other factors, could take over in the school premises and elsewhere.

You and I would agree that one of the most compelling risks is drug use and abuse. As responsible parents, our duty is to be aware of the risk before it becomes a problem.

Sa katunayan, kamakailan lamang ay pumalo sa tinatayang 92% ng mga barangay sa Metro Manila ang may tala na ng paggamit ng ilegal na droga noong 2014. Ito ang resulta ng ginawang pagsusuri ng Philippine National Police gamit ang panuntunan ng Dangerous Drugs Board.

When I was appointed Chief of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force, more commonly known as PAOCTF, I held true to my mandate: the police force showcasing a determined tenacity in flushing out drug networks and traffickers. While the people clamored for protection, my team was at the forefront of operations to counter multiple crimes that then plagued the country.

Sa unang taon ng aming organisasyon, ang aming malawakang kampanya laban sa droga ay nagbunga sa pagkakahuli ng 2,320 suspected drug traffickers and dealers, at pagkakumpiska ng 120.319 na kilo ng shabu na nagkakahalagang P240.638 milyong piso.

As I assumed my post as the Chief of the Philippine National Police in November 1999, I made a strong resolve that come hell or high water, I would put a premium on the fight against the rising number of criminal activities, including drug abuse and trafficking.

Dapat na sugpuin ang suplay ng droga na ikinakalakal sa pamilihan. Kaugnay nito ang maigting na operasyon ng kapulisan upang matigil ang produksyon, distribusyon at palitan ng ilegal na droga sa open o black markets at maging sa lokal o internasyunal na merkado.

Our successful campaign in our fight against illegal drugs yielded positive results. It even merited numerous citations and awards from other law enforcement agencies like the US Drug Enforcement Agency or US-DEA.

Further, I continued my unwavering commitment to safeguard the well-being of the citizenry particularly the youth from the harmful effects of dangerous drugs when I became Senator in 2001.

Lalo nating pinagtibay ang batas laban sa paggamit at trafficking ng ilegal na droga sa pamamagitan ng pagpapaigting ng mga karampatang parusa sa mga lalabag sa Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The amendments made in the law were meant to impose stiffer penalties for the violation of the said Act. Said penalties include imprisonment ranging from 6 months and one day to death, and the imposition of fine amounting to P500,000 to P10 million.

Sa kasalukuyang batas, kung ikaw ay mahulihan ng 50 gramo ng shabu, 10 gramo ng morphine o ecstacy, o 500 gramo ng marijuana, ikaw ay makukulong nang habambuhay.

Further, my amendment, which was adopted by the Senate, called for the confiscation and forfeiture of all the assets and properties of the accused, either owned or held by him or in the name of other persons, if these are manifestly out of proportion to his or her lawful income.

I firmly believe then and now that the drug menace in the country will be resolved through strong political will. Our legislature shall embark on measures and laws that will curtail the growth of the drug industry.

DEMAND REDUCTION

The next pillar which is also the core topic of this day’s symposium about drug prevention is the so-called demand reduction. By definition, demand reduction refers to efforts aimed at reducing the public desire for illegal and illicit drugs.

Reportedly, there has been an increase in social and economic factors which make people, especially the young, more vulnerable and likely to engage in drug use and drug-related risk-taking behaviors.

Isa sa mga nakapanglulumong katotohanan ay ang ulat na lalong bumabata o bumababa ang edad ng mga nalululong sa ipinagbabawal na gamot. The statistical figures over the last decade revealed a trend towards a decreasing age. In the 1950s, the age of drug offenders ranged between 40-55 years. In the 1980s, the average age of drug users was 25. More recent data indicate that drug use starts at the very, very young age of 8 to 9 years old.

It is seriously alarming that our young people are at risk of drug use at such an early stage. And since most of the time they do not have the strength to say NO, then begins the horrendous cycle of drug abuse.

Through the years, we have seen programs and efforts like school-based, community and mass education as part of the widespread strategy to reduce the demand for all substance abuse.

However, I firmly believe that the facet of drug demand reduction best starts inside our own homes. As one pastor once said and I quote, “the family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.”

Alam nating ang pamilya ang itinuturing na pinakamahalagang bahagi sa lipunan. Ito ang pinanggagalingan ng emosyonal, pisikal, at ispiritwal na lakap ng ating mga kabataan.

For this reason, the factors that affect children’s early development in the family are probably the most crucial.

Nalalagay sa alanganin ang pagkahubog ng ating mga anak kung hindi nila nadarama ang pag-aaruga at pagmamahal ng kanilang mga magulang, kung wala silang ibang nakikita sa araw araw kung hindi ang kaguluhan sa kanilang kapaligiran, at kung ang mismong mga magulang o tagapag-alaga nila ay sangkot sa pag-aabuso ng droga o iba pang ilegal na gawain.

On the other hand, families can serve its protective function when there is a strong bond between and among members of the family, there is the needed parental involvement in a child’s life, supportive parenting that meets the emotional, cognitive, and social needs, and clear limitations and consistent enforcement of discipline.

Ikinagagalak kong makita ang mga magulang na nandito ngayon upang makibahagi sa talakayan kung paano natin mailalayo ang ating mga anak sa banta ng droga. Tayong mga magulang ang pinakamahalagang haligi sa pangangalaga ng ating mga anak upang mailayo sila sa paggamit at pag-abuso sa anumang ipinagbabawal na gamot.

I always say that speaking before students and parents is not only a noble task to me, but also an opportunity—an opportunity to look back to my journey as a son and a young student.

Just like almost everybody else, I have beautiful stories to tell about my mother when she was still with me and my siblings on earth. Just like anybody else, I love to reminisce and relate to others those beautiful stories.

My nanay was a stickler for discipline who valued integrity in her everyday life like no other. Never a Sunday passed that my parents did not attend mass in our town’s parish church in Imus, Cavite. They instilled in us, their eight children, the same moral values that they practiced.

I remember that my mother would always tell me since I was a kid just starting to make sense of good advice, to uphold the principles, discipline and leadership that she taught me and my siblings.

Mula pa sa aking murang edad, iminulat na ng aking mga magulang ang mga katagang, “Ang tama ay ipaglaban; ang mali ay labanan.” Ang prinsipyong ito ay aking isinapuso at isinagawa simula pa nang ako ay naging isang lingkod bayan hanggang sa kasalukuyan.

Experiences of the past have also convinced me that the youth are more than ready in doing their part in nation building and have an active voice on how their future is being shaped.

Kaya naman sa mga kabataang nasa bulwagang ito ngayon, sa inyong mga balikat nakaatang ang tungkuling maging mabuti at kapaki-pakinabang sa inyong mga pamilya at sa ating lipunan. Nawa’y masalamin sa inyo ang sinabi ni Gat Jose Rizal na “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng Bayan.” Kaaalinsabay nito ay ang inyong tungkuling hikayatin ang inyong mga kapwa kabataan na umiwas at lumayo sa paggamit ng mga ipinagbabawal na gamot.

The students gathered here today can be considered more blessed and more fortunate than other teens in the real world outside who do not have families, friends, or schools like Sacred Heart Academy, to empower and equip them with resources and opportunities to help them in making the best decisions for themselves.

I hope that you will make use of what you have right now because not everybody has the means and capability to reach the point where you are today.

Ano ang mensahe na nais kong iparating sa lahat ng mga naririto ngayon? Simple lamang.

Now more than ever, we should strengthen our resolve to fight drug use and abuse, set such advocacy not just as a mere job for the police or a concern of a few others, but rather, a collective matter of national interest.

Ang laban sa ilegal na droga ay laban nating lahat.

Kung kaya nating tutukan araw-araw ang istorya ng buhay pag-ibig nina Alden at Yaya Dub sa Kalyeserye, sigurado akong kaya rin nating tutukan at pagtibayin ang ating kampanya laban sa ipinagbabawal na gamot.

Whether we act as law enforcers, students or as ordinary citizens abiding by the law of the land, we are all accountable in maintaining a drug-free community.

With the same conviction, I call upon everyone in this hall: Exercise your civic duty. Act as the eyes and the ears of the community and the police force against those who are engaged in the selling, distribution and consumption of illegal drugs and substances. Help in creating a safer and more nurturing local environment by destroying the things that you know can destroy you.

By all means, sustain your commitment to our war against substance and drug abuse.

Remember that “commitment” signifies the ability to stand firm behind your decisions no matter how difficult they may be. A wise man once said, “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.”

In the same extent, we are all accountable for our actions, or the lack of it. What we do or not do in sustaining peace and order will reflect on our state as a nation. Hence, rather than settling in leniency with our sleepy conscience, let us be accountable for a meaningful cause.

I believe there is only one accident in this world, and that is the accident of being born rich or poor. Everything else in life is a conscious choice.

Usong uso ngayon sa mga kabataan, lalong lalo na sa social media ang mga katagang “Walang Forever”. Ang sabi ko naman–“We create our own forever.”

Again, I would like to express my sincerest thanks to Sacred Heart Academy for having me as your guest speaker today. It is an honor to be given the opportunity to share my insights with the students, teachers and parents here today.

Let me end my message with a relevant quote that I saw while browsing Facebook a few days ago:

Anyone can put you on the right path but they cannot make you walk it. You have to take that first step and decide if you are on the road to failure or success.

Thank you and mabuhay!

*****