Protection from society’s ills

I have full trust and confidence in the current administration and our law enforcement agencies that they will be able to sustain the gains made in the past.

Knowing that your child may be in danger is a parent’s worst fear. I think I can speak on behalf of all parents when I say that even if our children have grown up or have started their own families, we still cannot help but worry over their safety.

That is why I am deeply concerned by the increasing reports on traditional and social media these past weeks and days regarding kidnappings, killings and other crimes nationwide. Some of the reported victims were very young Filipinos, including a child of seven. Whether young or old, man or woman, all of them have precious lives — or have had for those killed — that deserve better protection in their own country.

I do believe that our country’s police were not remiss in their duties. In fact, in most of the recently reported cases, suspects have already been identified and some detained.

I have full trust and confidence on the current administration and our law enforcement agencies that they will be able to sustain the gains made in the past and bring our people closer to our goal of having a safer more comfortable life for all.

Nevertheless, the fact that the criminals had the audacity to commit such atrocious acts shows that there is a clear need for us to further ramp up our campaign against criminality and illegal drugs.

We have seen for ourselves how effective the Duterte administration’s rigorous fight against illegal drugs had been in maintaining peace and order in our country, particularly in lowering the crime rate and addressing corruption in the government. In fact, the Philippine crime rate has decreased by 73.76% from 2016 to 2021, according to the record of the Philippine National Police.

Through former president Rodrigo Duterte’s firm stand and corresponding directives against illegal drugs, we were able to feel at ease knowing that our children can most probably walk through the streets without being accosted or otherwise harmed. We did not have to fear for our lives constantly. Instead, it was the criminals who had reason to fear the force of the law. It might not have been perfect but the people themselves can attest to the positive changes the campaign has brought.

Thus, I continue to push for measures that will not only sustain the gains we have achieved from the campaign against illegal drugs but will also better protect our people from the “ills of society” and their tragic consequences.

Last week, during the Senate Committee on Public Order hearing, I manifested my support for Sen. Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa’s proposed Anti-Drug Abuse Council Law which seeks to institutionalize Anti-Drug Abuse Councils in every local government unit.

For my part, I have refiled Senate Bill No. 428 which shall establish a Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in every province throughout the Philippines. The center shall provide care, treatment and accommodation to drug dependents; enhance their physical, psychological and social capability to cope with common problems; and provide after-care, follow-up and social reintegration services, among others.

I likewise introduced SBN 419 which shall provide for a Magna Carta of benefits for the officers and personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. They have been at the frontline of the war against crime and illegal drugs and they have protected Filipinos from the dangerous impacts of illegal drugs. It is only right that we also safeguard the social and economic welfare of our PDEA personnel.

Furthermore, I filed SBN 422 to provide free legal assistance to any officer or enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP who is facing before the prosecutor’s office, court or any competent body, any charge arising from an incident related to the performance of official duty.

Meanwhile, as chair of the Senate Committee on Sports, I also continue to encourage our youth to get into sports and stay away from illegal drugs. I constantly give them this reminder every time I visit vulnerable communities across the country to provide aid, including balls for basketball and volleyball.

Last week, my office assisted 269 students in Nueva Ecija from the towns of Penaranda, General Tinio, San Isidro, Jaen, San Antonio, Cabiao, Guimba, Nampicuan, Cuyapo, Pantabangan; and cities of Cabanatuan and Gapan. We also helped 350 students in Quezon City. In both relief operations, I reminded our young Filipinos that they are the future of our country and stressed that they should not waste their immeasurable potential on illegal drugs.

We must continue to support the youth sector in the best way we can. The more we empower our youth, the brighter the future would be for our nation.

Likewise, my office continued its relief operations for our pandemic-affected Filipinos. I totally disagree with the recent proposal for the government to stop giving Covid-related financial assistance.

The government is mandated to help our impoverished Filipinos and ensure that they do not suffer from hunger amid the public health emergency. If there are alleged leakages in the provision of aid, then we should plug the leaks instead of turning it off, particularly at a time when there are still people who have nowhere else to go but to seek help from the government, especially the hopeless and the helpless.

Thus, my team distributed aid to 300 struggling residents in Nueva Valencia and 285 more in Sibunag, Guimaras; 107 in San Jose del Monte City, 61 in Meycauayan, and 503 in Malolos City, Bulacan; 100 in Murcia, 296 in Pontevedra, and 100 in Talisay City, Negros Occidental; 500 in Lagawe, Ifugao; 1,000 in Angeles City, Pampanga; 2,126 indigent workers in Mariveles, Bataan; 350 in Casiguran and 250 in Dinalungan in Aurora; and 150 students in Batac, Ilocos Norte; and 269 students from various towns in Nueva Ecija.

We also extended a hand to fire victims, including 230 residents in Barangay 76-A, Bucana and Barangay Agdao Proper, Davao City.

I am confident that the Marcos Administration will likewise demonstrate its dedication to maintaining peace and order in our country and providing succor to our disadvantaged Filipinos. I also hope that we can all support one another as we try to fully recover as one nation. Until then, we should ensure that no Filipino is left behind.

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