Cops sing to draw out ‘shabu’ users
CITY OF MALOLOS—What’s in a song? Singing Willy Garte’s novelty hit, “Bawal na Gamot (Prohibited Drugs)” has helped keep fatalities down in the government’s antidrug campaign, according to the Bulacan provincial peace and order council (PPOC).
Policemen in Paombong town, armed with a mobile public address system or a megaphone, have been singing that tune at the doorsteps of suspected drug users during their recent visits to the villages.
Occasionally, policemen led by Chief Insp. Leopoldo Estorque Jr., the municipal police chief, would belt out the song, “May Tatlong Bibe (There were three ducklings),” with the new lyric, “May tatlong pusher at addict akong nakita (I saw three drug pushers and addicts).”
In Norzagaray town, Supt. Joel Estaris, its police chief, and his men use reason to try to dissuade suspected drug abusers from continuing their bad habits.
“Payapa at tahimik po kayong makipagtulungan sa amin at huwag po kayong lalaban sa amin kung hindi ay baka malagay kayo 6 feet below the ground (Please cooperate with us peacefully and do not fight us or else you may end up buried, six feet below the ground),” he said in a video clip that was presented at the PPOC meeting on Friday by Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat Jr., acting Bulacan police director.
These innovations helped make the police campaign efficient and bloodless, Caramat said, in light of the 101 suspected drug traffickers who died fighting the police in Bulacan, or were murdered by unidentified attackers from June 30 to Aug. 12.
Of the 3.2 million Bulacan residents, 24,246 people were allegedly involved in illegal drugs, he said in the briefing.
Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado, PPOC chair, said one of the government's priorities was to provide the medical and psychological rehabilitation requirements of more than 16,000 suspected drug users who surrendered in the province.
Alvarado also revealed a plan to transfer the provincial jail here to Doña Remedios Trinidad (DRT) town to accommodate the rising number of inmates due to the antidrug campaign.
The Bulacan jail was designed for 800 inmates, the governor said.
In Pampanga province on Saturday, officials called off a physical fitness program for more than 10,000 drug users that were scheduled in several towns due to monsoon rains.
They are supposed to jog, dance or play basketball in different venues to kick off a community-based, weekend-only fitness plan that spans three months, Vice Gov. Dennis Pineda said.
He heads “Dalan ning Pamagbayu (Road to Change),” the provincial government’s reintegration and rehabilitation program for 10,403 drug users and pushers who gave themselves up to the police since July 21.
Despite the bad weather, Arnel and Raquel (not their real names) showed up together with 209 others from 24 of this city’s 35 villages.
Arnel is a 40-year-old ice cream vendor who took “shabu” (methamphetamines) to please his friends. Raquel, 37, worked as a runner for a small-time pusher to feed herself and her four children after her husband abandoned them for another woman seven years ago.
Arnel has shunned his friends, determined to stay clean for his four kids. Raquel sells burgers in her neighborhood, relying on loans.
Supt. Jean Fajardo, city police chief, said reforming was not an easy task. “This is why the whole community, especially barangay leaders, have to help the users and pushers,” she said.
Fajardo survived a firefight with a drug suspect who was being served an arrest warrant on July 4. More than 800 users and pushers have surrendered to the city's police.