Thousands join anti-drugs summit

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    PALAYAN CITY – Nueva Ecija has set a record of being the first province to gather thousands in an unprecedented anti-drugs summit at the Nueva Ecija Convention Center (NECC) here Wednesday, officials said.

    Gov. Aurelio Umali also led a long line of people submitting themselves to  voluntary drug-testing right at the summit.

    Umali who urged officials from the province’s 849 barangays to “fight and deny the inroads of the dreaded drug infestation in their minds,” also promised to pour in infrastructure projects to barangays that will have their territories cleared of drugs.

    Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Chair Efraim Genuino who was guest speaker, noted the Nueva Ecija summit was the first held outside Metro Manila after the “Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA)” he launched recently. BIDA landed at the Guinness Book of World Record as the biggest rally against illegal drugs.

    Also present during the summit were Senior  Supt. Ricardo Marquez, provincial police director; Dr. Abraham Pascua, provincial director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG); Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, commander of the Army’s 702nd Infantry Battalion; Provincial Prosecutor Floro Florendo; National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Nueva Ecija-Aurora chief, Pedro Roque Jr.; and other top ranking officials.

    Genuino raffled off 20 mobile phones and distributed some 20 service vehicles to participating barangays.

    “Go down to the barangay level and we get rid of the pernicious drug menace,” the governor told participants saying barangay officials must have “full knowledge of the notorious drug personalities, users and pushers and therefore should be involved in the war against the illicit drugs traffic.”

    Marquez, for his part, said they have established a data base that will make the determination of drug infestation in particular village or town more effective.

    Umali asked Gunino to extend funding to the Nueva Ecija Rehabilitation, Training and Research Center based in Palayan City headed by Dr. Vision de Guzman. Rehabilitation, the governor noted, is an important aspect of the fight against illegal drugs.

    Saying the battle against illegal drugs honored no social boundaries, Umali said he would consult church groups, non-government organization, the media, and the academe in the declaration of the barangays as truly rid of the drug menace.

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