DRUG BUSTING: Brgy officials need legal aid

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DRUG BUSTING: Brgy officials need legal aid

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In appreciation of the significant role of barangay officials in the prosecution of drug cases, a standby legal team should be in place to focus on the part of barangay officials as witnesses.  The Liga ng mga Barangay came up with the move to spare the flickering enthusiasm of barangay officials in the aggressive campaign against illegal drugs.

Liga ng mga Barangay federated president Romulo Cepedoza said the standby legal team can revive the enthusiasm of barangay officials to fulfill their mandate in relation to the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

The legal team will focus on the barangay officials’ role to strengthen the prosecution panel for drug cases to prosper in court.

In the recent meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC), the PDEA reported that as of July, they already filed 43 new cases in court, of which four had been dismissed.

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On this, the prosecution panel needs the cooperation of all the sectors in the community for drug cases to prosper in court, according to PDEA.

One concern that Cepedoza noted is the apprehension of barangay officials to take part in the prosecution because of lack of legal support when they testify in court in relation to police operations the result to filing of cases against alleged drug personalities.

This discouraged many barangay officials from taking part in anti-illegal drugs operations such as raids and buy-bust operations as they would be required to testify in court as witnesses then.

Another concern is the transportation cost from their homes to the court during hearings.

Cepedoza said he understands that it has never been easy on the part of the barangay officials, especially that at present set-up they have to spend for the transportation cost while they only rely on their meager honoraria.

The concerns of the barangay officials on this matter will be tackled during the meeting of Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC) of the province on September 16 to be attended by barangay tanods, kagawads, PDEA, police, and the local office of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

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Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Abel Damalerio earlier expressed that the cooperation sought from barangay officials is actually part of their mandate as public servants.

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He suggested that Cepedoza raises the matter in the future SP regular sessions to arrive at a concrete and an institutionalized approach to address the concerns of barangay officials.

This is in response to complaints that the police force implementing search warrants in raids and even in buy-bust operations could hardly convince some barangay officials to cooperate by witnessing the operations and signing the inventory sheets for the confiscated items.

Damalerio said the Sangguniang Panlalawigan wants to address this concern to improve the efficiency of the campaign against illegal drugs in consonance with the development agenda of the provincial government.

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DILG Provincial Director Louisella Lucino earlier warned barangay officials who would refuse to cooperate with the police operations against illegal drugs, that they would be sanctioned.

It is part of the mandate of the barangay officials to witness and sign the inventory sheets during the police operations, Lucino explained.

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