Even during the campaign season, President Rodrigo Duterte has repeated over and over again that fighting the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country will be his top priority. In the first two weeks of his administration, Duterte has wasted no time in escalating the war on drugs.
First, he revealed the names of five retired and active top-ranking police generals who are allegedly involved in the national drug trade. Then, he ordered the Philippine National Police to intensify its campaign against drug pushers and users – an initiative that so far is being blamed for the spate of summary executions nationwide.
Amidst all these, the government must not forget that education can and should be an integral part of the anti-drug campaign. Those from my generation still probably remember that during the administration of former President Joseph Estrada, his government entered into an agreement with the United States-based Drug Abuse Resistance Education International (DARE), Inc. for a local version of the said program. This eventually became the Philippine Drug Abuse Resistance Education or PHILDARE.
When I was in Grade 5 at the Juan Luna Elementary School in Manila (that’s school year 2000-2001), we were made to attend a weekly session conducted by a local police officer under the said program. I remember that well because I was ultimately recognized as the top performer in the program, for which I received a gold medal. 😀
But kidding aside, I hope that President Rody Duterte re-institutes that program for all schools nationwide. If anything, we all know that the drug abuse situation in the Philippines has gotten much worse the past 15 years. In fact, the problem affects every community imaginable – from the most affluent to the most depressed ones.
It is essential for students at all levels to know about the different types of drugs and the dangers they pose to their health as well as the legal consequences of possessing them.
This approach is similar to my preferred approach to sex education: Make the youth as knowledgeable as possible about the topic so that they’d eventually make more informed and responsible decisions about their lives.