BULUAN, Maguindanao – The MASA-MASID program, a focal initiative of the Dutrete administration against illegal drugs and corruption, is now officially activated in this province, giving local authorities clear-cut protocols in dealing with suspects in stages ranging from surveillance, persuasion or arrest up to reformation level.
The Mamamayang Ayaw sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw sa Ilegal na Droga (MASA MASID) program kicked off formally at a workshop here on March 23 with all of Maguindanao’s 36 towns cooperating.
Officials of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), a lead implementing agency, described the trend as “unprecedented,” noting that even opposition mayors either attended personally or sent in complete teams of players representing all state-prescribed sectors.
Some 300 delegates including town mayors, police chiefs, barangay league chairpersons, civic groups, faith-based organizations, and municipal DILG heads pledged utmost cooperation in solemn rite before Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu as chair of the provincial anti-drug abuse council.
Provincial DILG officials reported in a power-point presentation a total of 12,775 drug users in Maguindanao who had surrendered since start last year of Oplan “Tukhang” or “Double Barrel.”
The high turnout of surrendering users had placed local civilian and police authorities in quandary, especially on the issue of housing and rehabilitating them.
Last November, Gov. Mangudadatu alongside Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman launched the construction here of a P50-million modern provincial correctional and rehabilitation center to address the issue. The construction works, funded out of a provincial government loan, are expected to be completed this coming August.
Mangudadatu, in his speech at Thursday’s workshop here, the activation of the provincial MASA-MASID program will boost his administration’s campaign against illegal drugs, corruption and other crimes to include religious extremism.
“We now have clear-cut protocols and networks to fight illegal drugs and other crimes…There should be no room for failure,” Mangudadatu said.
He recalled his ordeals from political quarters that “persecuted” him in local courts for his campaign that neutralized some suspected drug users and peddlers when he was mayor of this town in 2001.
“I was alone in the fight, sometimes feeling remorse because the national authorities were not helping me. Fabricated suits against me suddenly vanished when President Duterte came into power,” the governor said in the vernacular.
The MASA-MASID program is a barangay-based comprehensive initiative of the Duterte government, encouraging multi-sector partnership against illegal drugs, corruption and other crimes under the principle of volunteerism, a DILG primer said.
In municipal, provincial, regional and national levels, the program enlists the services of volunteer physicians, social welfare workers and other concerned professionals in the reformation of surrendering drug users. It pursues popular beliefs that felons are human beings deserving second chance to live better.
Thursday’s workshop covered lectures and inspiring remarks by representatives of the police, military, civilian offices and civic groups in the province.
Cavite Vice Governor Jolo Revilla, who passing through this town alongside his provincial board members, dropped by at the workshop and delivered a message underscoring the importance of the Duterte government’s campaign against illegal drugs, corruption and other crimes.