Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo has underscored the need for local government units and barangays to unite in supporting President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

The Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs is the problem of everybody, he stressed.

Degamo said he has directed the creation of a committee within the year at the provincial government level, to map out a cohesive plan to ensure that the money allocated for the rehabilitation of surrenderers under Oplan TokHang will not go to waste.

He has also instructed the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Integrated Provincial Health Office in the province to coordinate with the national government for funding for the rehabilitation of drug dependents in the province.

Quoting the Philippine National Police in the province, Degamo said that since TokHang was launched in July last year, an estimated 14,000 drug dependents have surrendered to the police.

The provincial government will give a counterpart fund for the rehabilitation of surrenderers, especially those with severe cases, Degamo said.

He reiterated an initial plan, as “directed by the President”, to put up the rehabilitation center at an Army camp in the province.

He said he has been fighting the problem on drugs long before the President launched his war last year.

There was “no teeth’ at the time, and it was like “I was the only one standing” in the fight against drugs, Degamo pointed out.

The governor reiterated a previous statement that he would not hesitate to run after those engaged in the illegal drugs trade, “even if it is a congressman who is involved”.

Degamo did not elaborate.

Because of the province’s active campaign against the illegal drugs problem, the province’s index and non-index crimes dropped by as much as 11 percent, Degamo noted.

Also, the province received the IWAG award from the Department of Interior and Local Government for its anti-illegal drugs accomplishments.

Degamo also reassured that Task Force Leon Kilat, comprised of various government security agencies and line agencies, is not solely focused on the anti-terror campaign but on fighting criminality as well, to include the illegal drugs problem.

Asked if he had a timeline for the drug rehabilitation program, Degamo admitted it is easier said than done but he emphasized that local government units and even the barangays should allocate funds and pool all resources to make the program successful.*JFP