- SMC Top Honcho , foreign -sources provide cash
- Taipans, moguls asked to adopt one province
(MANILA) – Â How do we rehabilitate 1.8 million potential drug surrenderees?
Boholano Secretary to the Cabinet, and one of President Digong Duterte’s most trusted aides, Leoncio”Jun” Evasco bared new-found hope that the funding problem for the targeted 1.8 million drug -related surrenderees will be jump-started by an initial P5.7 B funded by San Miguel Corporation top man Ramon Ang (P1.O-Billion) and another US$100M ( P4.7 Billion) from Â contributors abroad.
The government had also requested the major taipans and business moguls in the country to “adopt a provincial rehab center” Â each as part of their avowed CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). Â President Duterte himself had directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines to donate at least two hectares to house some of these facilities.
So far, close to a million people Â had surrendered to the government who is faced with a king-sized problem Â as how to deal with this huge number of people. Â It must be noted that this “rehabilitation program” Â was not fully anticipated in the P3.3 Trillion GAA (National budget) for 2017 so funds had to be sourced elsewhere.
A case in point could be Bohol itself. The island Â contemplated by Gov. Edgar Chatto for drug rehabilitation Â has a reported Â capacity of only 200 patients. Bohol has, thus far, already seen 31,000 surrenderees.
METHOD OF SEGREGATION
The former three-term mayor of Maribojoc town said that immediately those surrenderees with concrete cases will have charges filed against them and incarcerated. The majority, who are severely damaged by drug abuse will be rehabilitated -en route to their eventual assimilation into mainstream society,
Evasco noted with worry that the medicines used often for drug rehab are similar to those used for persons inside the mental institutions -due to the debilitating Â damage done to the brain by the assault of drug chemicals
The Secretary said the government will use former teachers, the religious and psychologists in the “mental aspect” of the rehabilitation. Physically, the dependents will be tasked to detox from Â drug toxins by tree planting, community dancing and other physical activities.
CNN and BBC and local TV stations ,we noted, had a field day the last two weeks putting on video for to see the world the inhuman congestion in many Philippine jails which will be aggravated by the more than a million expected surrenderees.
THE CASE OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Evasco who has been with the president since 1988 – then for the first time as a free man since being jailed for being in the Â underground anti-Marcos forces – admitted he was approached by the former CHR (Commission on Human Rights) chairperson Etta Rosales who appeared shocked by the huge number of killings in the anti-drug crusade.
While the former priest-rebel conceded the ‘sanctity of human life” , the president had often “compared the thousands killed in the anti-drug movement against the millions destroyed by drug lords and pushers.”
Evasco methodically enumerated that the apparent desperate moves to quell the nation-wide drug scourge can find more meaning if one “realizes the virtual collapse of the five pillars Â of our justice system today.””
He enumerated them: some of the (a) arresting police officers are involved in various ways with the menace (b) prosecutors are corrupted by drug money, the courts are at times run by narco-judges on the take (c) the (jail/prison) is infested by drug influence (d) and the community (e) where the rehabilitated person graduates into -many barangays are still compromised by drug control.
Evasco called on everyone to do one’s share in crippling the drug monster.
THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE
Evasco, who has been Duterte’s perennial campaign manager, along with a ragtag team, surprised all political pundits by pulling off a 42% plurality win for the Davao mayor Â for the presidency in the 2010 polls.
The campaign started out as an innocent “showcase of Federalism” to provinces that wanted to hear them out – led by Duterte who was voted Â to leadÂ Â due to his relatively junior age (71) compared to Federalism prime Â movers like former senate president Nene Pimentel and Cagayan de Oro’s Ruben Canoy.
It was in those sorties -where the group felt the pulse of the common man’s main and Â deep concerns: corruption, drugs and criminality. Â “The biggest applause was drawn when Digong talked about killing drug lords and pushers and closing congress if it impedes the drug campaign and the savings therefrom given to social services,” he said.
On record since two years ago, the nation was reported to house at least 3.5 drug users and the country Â has also still remained a haven of corruption despite much gains during the Aquino administration.
The Project aimed at People Participation in empowered governance has often been stymied by the fact that in development councils, the People’s Organizations and the (NGO) Non-Government Organizations can only muster 25% of the vote.
Thus, Evasco explained, therefore the “Kilusang Pagbabago” Â movement will be currently Â institutionalize in all barangays willing to cooperate which will aid them Â get easy access to government programs on (a) livelihood, (b) reduction in Â the cost of living and (c) reduction of inputs especially for agricultural pursuits.
Among others, Evasco announced that Malacanang will henceforth be called “The People’s Palace” with the masses gaining Â better eease of entry leading towards the Palace Museum. He also announced that th Government’s ACCESS program draws at least 1,000 complaints and requests per day.
RELUCTANT CABINET SECRETARY
Evasco recalled his to go back to the quietude of Maribojoc after 2010 – to do organic farming- rather than be in the vortex of presidential flux. He refused the first DILG head being hankered around-as ” I would not be effective in dealing with the PNP because of my activist background”.
He was arrested and subjected to torture during Martial Law. ” I might be too strict or too lenient with the police.” , he explained. Â Evasco, however, eventually acceded to a Cabinet position as his conscience was bothered Â for “pushing Digong to the presidency” and then deserting the president when he needed Evasco.
POWERFUL CABINET POSITION
Evasco’s position in the circle of power cannot be underestimated. It is the third of three very powerful offices running the Malacanang activities.
One is that of the Executive Secretary, Office of the Presidential Management System and that of Evasco’s Secretary to the Cabinet.
Evasco is, therefore, a “de facto” chief of staff (COS) of the president and among other powers, screens and finalizes the agenda of every Cabinet Meeting.
Not bad indeed for an ever Â self-effacing Â former Boholano mayor of a small Bohol town.