City Gov’t dared: Name barangay captains who tested positive for drugs

LIPA CITY – A three-termer councilor challenged the Lipa City government to name the four barangay captains who tested positive in last week’s random drug test for the sake of transparency.

In his privilege speech on Tuesday’s session, Councilor Nilo Catipon said that while he commends the initiative of Mayor Meynardo Sabili, the City’s Anti-Drug Task Force, the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police, to conduct the test as a means of showing example to their constituents in the fight against illegal drugs, he feels that some barangay captains are being unfairly implicated since the announcement was made in an interview with ABS-CBN Southern Tagalog.

“They better name the four barangay captains involved in illegal drugs because of its negative impact to the other captains who are being falsely accused,” Catipon said, adding that the city has rehabilitation facilities to help reform these village officials.

Councilor Merlo Silva opposed the said suggestion insisting that these would only put the chairman and his family’s name to shame. They should instead file cases against the said persons without having to namedrop and shame them in public.

Earlier on June 8, the city government initiated a surprise drug test among the city’s barangay captains, four of which were reported positive for drugs. Their names, however, were not released to the public pending confirmatory tests, which only triggered speculations and guessing games among netizens as to who these people are.

Sixteen chairmen were not present during the testing but city officials said they will require them to undergo the test.

In an interview with ABS-CBN, Sabili said he was disappointed to hear the said news.

“I didn’t expect it. Sometimes, there were reports and when I ask those people concerned, of course they would deny it,” he added.

ABC President and Councilor Paulino Querubin however said that the results of the drug tests may not be conclusive as they are still subject for confirmatory testing by the Department of Health.

He also claimed that two of the barangay chairmen who tested positive have been taking maintenance medicines for heart disease, which may have influenced the lab results.

“Initially, they already have findings so what the Department of Health will do is to check whether they used marijuana or shabu or they may have taken other drugs that they failed to declare so the DOH will have to confirm which substance they tested positive,” said the city’s anti-drug task force chairman Ram Mendoza in an interview.

On Tuesday, the Sangguniang Panglungsod headed by Vice Mayor Eric Africa and 13 other councilors participated in another drug test, the results of which have yet to be released as of this posting time.

Africa said this was their way of showing their support to the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs, which should start from the leaders themselves. Those sanggunian officials and employees who will test positive for drugs after confirmatory testing will likewise face necessary sanctions, he said

The Vice Mayor also said he opposes the suggestion to name barangay chairmen who tested positive “until after confirmatory tests are made” so names will not be destroyed and those who conducted won’t be accused of “politicking.”

P/Supt. Carlos Barde, Lipa City police chief, told reporters that around 5,300 self-confessed drug users in the city have surrendered through PNP’s Oplan Tokhang but they are still validating the figure as there were reports that 1000 of them were classified as “double entry”, which means these addicts have already surrendered both to them and the Lipa City government.

The city government’s campaign against illegal drugs is also gaining headway as Barde claims many pushers have already began mending their ways and stopped using drugs, based on the police and various barangay captains’ observations.

The PNP is taking a multi-faceted approach to solve the drug problem: first with the Oplan Tokhang and another with police operations including search warrants and buybust to pin suspects who continue to be involved in the illegal drug trade.

Barde has this message to the pushers: “They better stop now as our efforts are relentless led by the President. The President would definitely not allow illegal drugs to proliferate in our country.”

Privilege Speech Councilor Nilo Catipon