BACOLOD CITY, June 26 — At least 17,000 participants, including delegates from Luzon, gathered at the public plaza here Monday to mark the 2017 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (IDADAIT) led by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).
Themed “Listen First,” the activity, attended by students, teachers, barangay leaders, government workers, among others, focused on the need to listen to children and youth as the first step to help them grow healthy and safe.
Undersecretary Maria Belen Angelita Matibag, executive director of DDB, said in her speech the youth remains to be the sector most vulnerable to drugs, and the target of drug perpetrators.
“However, it is not right to just consider them as victims, we believe that the youth also have the capacity to rise up against the drug menace. Knowledge, resilience and idealism spell the difference among the youth,” Matibag stressed, adding, “That is why we have to listen to them.”
The DDB chief also underscored the role of the parents in the fight against drugs, saying they have the most influence in helping their children grow happy and learn to cope well in difficult life situations.
“It is important for us to create a strong bond between our children and this bond can be built by listening to them and showing them we care. This strong bond will protect our children from risky and harmful behaviors including drug use,” she added.
Matibag also said that children and the youth need the policymakers and program implementers to listen to them with warmth and care.
Often, the most effective programs and interventions actually come from them, she further said.
Assistant Secretary Earl Saavedra also of DDB told Mayor Evelio Leonardia that Bacolod was chosen to host this year’s IDADAIT, which is the first time to be held outside Luzon, because the city “has good practices in terms of drug abuse prevention and control.”
The Anti-Drug Abuse Council is very active and there is a convergence among the local government, public and also private institutions, Saavedra added.
House Deputy Speaker Mercedes Alvarez, representative of the Sixth District of Negros Occidental, as guest speaker shared her experiences as a youth and also held a trivia game for the students.
Delegations from Luzon included those from Makati City, Pasay City, Parañaque City, Quezon City, San Pedro, Laguna, and Tanay, Rizal.
Leonardia welcomed the participants with Bacolod City Lone District Representative Greg Gasataya, and Police Regional Office-18 officials led by Chief Superintendent Edmund Gonzales and Senior Superintendent Jack Wanky.(Nanette L. Guadalquiver/PNA)