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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AN official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) turned on human rights groups who are against the random drug testing on students.

Paul Ledesma, PDEA-6 director, questioned why human rights groups are opposing drug tests in schools when these cannot be considered violations of human rights.

Ledesma said the proliferation of illegal drugs is a threat to national security which must be confronted with resolve.

“One of the solutions is to conduct random drug tests in schools to prevent the youth from using illegal drugs. The young people are the main target of drug syndicates,” Ledesma said.

Ledesma also urged private institutions and organizations to adopt their internal drug control policy for their own welfare.

The policy will also prevent human rights groups from intervening in random drug tests and other anti-illegal drugs measures of private and public institutions.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and Department of Health (DOH) have started conducting this month random drug tests on students in Region 6.

Dr. Rex Casiple, CHEd regional office officer-in-charge, said random tests began among students in Aklan and Antique provinces since October 16.

This week, CHEd-DOH teams conducting the tests would be in Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Capiz and Guimaras.

Health and education officials would conduct the testing in 64 schools in Western Visayas – 30 in Panay Island and 34 in Negros Occidental.

Tests were also conducted in five universities in Iloilo City last November 9.

The testing complies with the national government’s directive to heighten the government’s campaign to ensure that all public and private high schools and colleges are drug-free.

The CHEd-DOH teams pick out randomly 10 students from each school from the list of students prepared by school officials. Those tagged for the tests were required to get their parents’ written permission.

The test results are confidential and the results would be forwarded to the CHEd’s national office.

Latest data from PDEA show that 150,000 persons are using illegal drugs in Western Visayas out of the 6.7 million users in the country. (With reports from Bombo Radyo-Iloilo)

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A MARIJUANA-smoking corpse. A 6-year-old pothead.

These lurid tales pertain to suspected drug pusher in Balasan, Iloilo who was arrested in a buy-bust operation the other day.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) along with the Balasan police and the Regional Anti Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (RAIDSOTF) conducted two buy-bust operations in the town Tuesday.

The first operation in Brgy. Camambugan led to the arrest of Jayvee Gabriel and Johnny Jovito.

The operatives confiscated from Gabriel three small sachets containing suspected shabu and mark money used in the buy-bust.

Paul Ledesma, PDEA regional chief, said they received reports that Gabriel made his 6-year-old grandson smoke marijuana and sniff shabu during their pot sessions.

Three years ago, Gabriel allegedly dug up the remains of a 1-year-old boy, dressed and propped him up his tomb and put a marijuana stick in the corpse’s lips.

Ledesma said the Balasan police confirmed the story on the pot-smoking corpse after the buy-bust operation.

“I felt disgusted when I heard the story. I could not believe that they could do such dastardly act,” Ledesma said in a phone interview.

Another buy-bust operation was conducted in Brgy. Poblacion Sur resulting in the arrest of Bobby de la Cruz, Reynaldo Pendon, John Lester Malata and Arman Diocos

De la Cruz was the subject of the operation while Pendon, Malata and Diocos were inside the De la Cruz’s house during the operation.

The team seizes two sachets of suspected marijuana and a small bag allegedly containing dried marijuana leaves.

The suspects are included in the PDEA watchlist of suspected drug peddlers and users in Iloilo.

Balasan is also the hometown of O’Henry Caspillo and Rolly Tiope whom the PDEA suspected as the top drug peddlers in northern Iloilo.

Caspillo and Tiope, collectively known as the Balasan Boys, became the subject of a congressional inquiry after the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutors Office dismissed the non-bailable charges against them. 

C/Insp. Ramir Gallardo, RAIDSOTF chief, said the suspects belong to the Balasan Boys group which operates in northern Iloilo.

The suspects underwent drug tests before charges for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 were filed against them.

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