Building a drug-free future

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For decades, our country has been plagued with a formidable disease and that is the problem of illegal drugs. It is an affliction that has been slowly destroying our families, communities, institutions and our beloved country. And for years, no one else has boldly taken a step towards stopping this disease — not until now.

“Keeping them away from drugs boils down to ensuring the availability and accessibility of programs that will help them become productive citizens.

When President Rodrigo Duterte took the position as the father of this country in 2016, he waged a relentless campaign against illegal drugs. He strongly pushed for programs that quickly turned the heads of many people, especially the opposition. I am happy that the President made this as a focus of his national governance agenda because, as far as the numbers show, it gained widespread acceptance and approval as it has drastically protected and changed many lives.

Although millions of Filipinos are now living clean and drug-free lives after turning themselves in and vowing to never use illegal drugs again, the battle is far from over. The President still needs help in sustaining the campaign against illegal drugs and ensuring the perpetrators will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

This issue comes to the fore as we observe this year’s Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week. The observance reiterates the need to continue the fight against illegal drugs and this week’s activities focuses on the protection of our children. So, how do we make sure that our children are living in a safe, healthy, secure and drug-free country?

Whenever I go around the country, I see many of our children wasting their free time in unproductive vices while there are others who do not even go to school because they cannot afford it. I have also seen some children begging in the streets and looking for ways to earn a living just to fill their empty stomachs. These are the conditions that make them susceptible to exploitation as well as expose them to crimes vices and illegal drugs.

That is why when I decided to pursue my candidacy for the Senate, one of the priority legislative agendas I will be pushing is to provide funding for free school supplies, uniforms and equipment in schools as well as free school buses in far-flung areas so that our children and their parents need not to worry about them anymore.

I will also be pursuing legislative measures that will establish sports and youth development centers in every locality. These centers will not only have instructors, equipment and sports clinics but will also provide mentoring and training programs to help our children develop their athletic skills and abilities.

I will also lead efforts to amend the Juvenile Justice Law so that minors will not be used for illegal activities, especially drug running, by criminal syndicates. I will also be pushing for the funding of free rehabilitation and reformation centers for drug addicts and users and harsher penalties for crimes involving illegal drugs.

Of course, I am an advocate of proper and quality health care service, such as the Universal Health Law and the Malasakit Center, a one-stop center where all the government agencies will be pooled in to provide financial aid to patients. I will also push for a zero-billing policy and free medicine for all. These measures will help keep our children healthy and disease-free.

“The President still needs help in sustaining the campaign against illegal drugs.

If we provide these kinds of program to our people, especially the youth, I am sure they will choose to stay away from bad influences and opt not to be contaminated by the disease that is illegal drugs. Indeed, keeping them away from drugs boils down to ensuring the availability and accessibility of programs that will help them become productive citizens and keep them away from dangerous vices.

I have always believed in the Filipino people — their ability to change, adapt and, most importantly, understand as well as support programs for the betterment of this country. If we want our vision for a progressive and safe Philippines with Filipinos being responsible humans who look after themselves and others to materialize, then we must continue the battle to stop the abuse of drugs.

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Blast from the past: On 19 November 1850, Isabelo Tampingco, renowned sculptor, carver and artist, was born in Binondo, Manila. He traces his lineage to Binondo-based Filipino-Chinese carvers and Rajah Lakandula, the last lakan of pre-colonial Tondo.

He is well-renowned for his works as a talented carver and sculptor. He won medals and accolades at the Philippine General Exposition held in Madrid in 1887, the Universal Exposition of Barcelona in 1888, the Philippine Regional Exposition in Manila in 1895 and the Saint Louis World Fair in 1904. His famous works can be seen at Santo Domingo Church, Laoag Cathedral, San Agustin Church and the Old Senate Session Hall at the National Museum in Manila.

Isabelo Tampingco is just one of the many Filipino artists who made their mark in the field of art, proving that we have no shortage of world-class talents here in the country. Let his example inspire present generation of Filipinos to remain committed to their art and continue pursuing their passions.

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