The United States government, through the Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), recently gathered international experts to train local government representatives in developing strategies to mitigate the impact of and reduce the demand for illegal drugs in the Philippines.
From October 31 to November 2, 120 delegates representing 19 local government units attended the 5th National Conference of Anti-Drug Abuse Coalitions on the theme “Strengthening Prevention Strategies for Drug Free Communities,” organized by the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, the Association of Anti-Drug Abuse Coalitions of the Philippines, Inc. (AADAC), and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) in Makati City.
During the conference, international experts trained participants on conducting community assessments and developing sustainable and comprehensive strategies for anti-drug abuse coalition activities. Two certified youth trainers led sessions for 60 youth leaders on countering stigma associated with drug use, promoting mental health, and strengthening youth engagement in anti-drug abuse coalitions.
AADAC also awarded ten local chief executives for their grassroots efforts in strengthening multisectoral cooperation to address illegal drugs and in allocating financial support for AADAC programs in their communities. The ten officials named “champions in anti-drug abuse coalition work” are Angono Municipal Vice Mayor Gerardo Calderon, Calamba City Vice Mayor Angelito Lazaro, Jr., Cavite City Mayor Denver Chua, Muntinlupa City Mayor Rozzano Rufino Biazon, Tanay Municipal Mayor Rafael Tanjuatco, Barangay Caticlan Chairman Ralf Tolosa, Aklan Governor Jose Enrique Miraflores, Barangay Poblacion Makati Chairman Benhur Cruz, Makati City Mayor Mar-Len Abigail Binay, and Quezon City Mayor Maria Josefina Belmonte.
“Coalitions carry out vital work, such as educating and engaging the youth, volunteering time to holistic care, and ensuring the availability of mental health support, often with very little resources,” INL Manila Director Kelia Cummins said. “This is why cooperation among coalitions is so essential—we are stronger together. We can pool not only financial resources, but also knowledge, time, and collective experience to ensure that our communities are safe, healthy, and productive.”
“Law enforcement alone is not enough. We must pursue a holistic approach to this fight by strengthening our drug prevention and control strategies. This cannot be done without the unity of the Filipino people,” Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Margarita Gutierrez said.
“We share one goal, and that is to achieve a health and drug-free community,” Dangerous Drugs Board Undersecretary Gilberto Cruz added.
AADAC is an umbrella association of 27 community anti-drug abuse coalitions located across the Philippines.
The INL-sponsored multi-year program “Building and Sustaining Effective Community Anti-Drug Coalitions in the Philippines” aims to establish community anti-drug coalitions and strengthen existing communities with the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to build effective and sustainable coalitions that combat illegal drugs and drug-related crime. Learn more about the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement and its global drug demand reduction programs at www.state.gov/j/inl.