DILG creates ‘Task Force Digong’ vs illegal drugs
Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) - July 21, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has created an inter-agency task force called DILG Inter-Government Operations Network Group or DIGONG, following President Duterte’s recent disclosure of the names of government officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.

Digong is the President’s nickname.

DILG Secretary and concurrent National Police Commission (Napolcom) chairman Ismael Sueño said he would personally chair the newly created task force with DILG Undersecretary for Operations John Castriciones as deputy chair.

“With so many top government officials being linked to illegal drugs, Task Force Digong will seek to find the truth so that those who are guilty will face the full force of the law, while those who are innocent will be cleared,” he said.

Members of Task Force Digong include representatives from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC), Local Government Academy (LGA) and local government officials.

Sueño said the responsibility of the task force is to assist the Napolcom and other concerned government agencies in the investigation of government officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

Specifically, the task force shall conduct case build-up and gathering of evidence against involved government officials, conduct its own preliminary investigation and prepare a recommendation as a result of its findings. 

The recommendation shall then be referred to the Napolcom or the appropriate government agency for filing of appropriate criminal and/or administrative charges, if applicable.

“The President has imposed a three- to six-month deadline against illegal drugs. TF Digong will help make this happen through better cooperation among agencies and faster, immediate action,” said Sueño.

The DILG secretary said Task Force Digong shall also assist in processing the surrender of individuals involved in illegal drugs, through coordination with the PNP, and refer the surrenderees to rehabilitation centers.

Castriciones said the task force members would regularly coordinate with relevant government agencies including the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in the performance of its functions.

Task Force Digong will complement PNP’s Task Force Tokhang (knock and plead), the anti-drug campaign wherein police officers visit houses of people suspected of being involved in illegal drugs.

Another task force, Oplan Rody (Rid the Streets of Drinkers and Youth), sets a curfew for minors from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and prohibits drinking of liquor in the streets and public places.

Chief Supt. Ericson Velasquez, officer-in-charge of the Directorate for Police Community Relations of the Philippine National Police, said the PNP is training police officers to be effective speakers to encourage the public to support the drive against illegal drugs, particularly shabu.

“(Illegal drugs) is a multi-billion industry (that) operates almost with impunity. There are very limited complaints about drug dealers. This makes illegal drug deals and consumption a victimless crime,” Velasquez said.

Velasquez said the PNP needs the support of the public to ensure the success of the campaign against the proliferation of illegal drugs.

Chinese nabbed in Cebu

Bureau of Customs (BOC) agents arrested yesterday a Chinese woman at the Mactan International Airport in Cebu for allegedly smuggling 4.5 kilos of shabu.

Zhou Liming, 27, was nabbed after the BOC’s drug-sniffing dog detected the illegal drugs contained in 11 packs inside the hidden compartment of her luggage.

The Chinese passenger arrived on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong.

The drugs were discovered when the luggage passed through the X-ray machine at the Customs area.

She was immediately placed under custody of Aviation Security Unit for investigation and criminal indictment.  

Skills training

After Zumba dancing, the government is now offering skills training to drug dependents and pushers who want to be rehabilitated.

Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) chief Guiling Mamondiong yesterday announced that the agency is opening its training centers nationwide for drug dependents and drug pushers.

Mamondiong said TESDA decided to offer skills training to prevent drug pushers and drug dependents from returning to the illegal business and habit after surrendering to the government.

“This is in response to reports of convicts and inmates who resort to their old trades after serving time in jail because they have no other means of livelihood,“ Mamondiong said.

Mamondiong said the government must provide alternative means of livelihood to those inmates as well as drug users so they have a second chance in life.

He said TESDA is implementing a program for drug dependents and pushers in coordination with the DILG.

All TESDA regional directors, he said, will also coordinate with the PNP and the DILG in implementing the skills training for drug users and pushers.

Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the DOLE supports the national government’s all out campaigm against drug abuse and trafficking.

In support of the anti-drug campaign, Bello said the DOLE Bicol regional office actively participated in the national observance of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (DADAIT).

Acting DOLE Bicol regional director Karina Trayvilla said strong family bond is essential in protecting and preventing children from engaging in illegal drug use. – With Edu Punay, Mayen Jaymalin


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