Life in the Plateau

By Walter I. Balane

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/06 February) IT IS UNDERSTANDBLE why people got so curious about the video that spilled the beans. It is much talked about. But most of us did not see it. It sent everybody switching channel —and ended the night disappointed.

It was supposed to be shown on entrapment TV show ‘Bitag’ (Trap), as the rumors said. Now it’s the public who is in abysmal clueless-ness, if not confusion. All we know is that the employees lost their jobs.

Were they able to see the video that cost them their jobs? They, too, didn’t.

They were caught on video but the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) could not use it to file charges in court.

The city government forced the employees to resign.  They resigned. So is the issue resigning with them? Not quite. This is not just about them.


How many really resigned? The official city hall press release cited eight.

Another source said there were only six: two co-terminus employees, three casual employees, and only one job order employee. The other two supposedly were Capitol employees, which the Capitol denied.

The employees resigned – probably threatened by the possibility of being barred from future employment or being forced to rehabilitation.  Losing a job is a lesser consequence.

Don’t get me wrong. We should call a spade, a spade. Using illegal drugs is wrong. It’s not prohibited for nothing.  I also believe that every suspect should be afforded due process.


Gov. Alex Calingasan said he will give a chance to provincial government employees who may be found to have used illegal drugs.


This sounds like a score but will it deter the drug users? We’ll see.


If it failed to cause arrests and the filing of cases, PDEA’s action of showing the video to the government officials, at least, resulted in waves of random testing.

On January 29, Sunday, the Capitol Grounds jogging lanes saw more joggers than the usual. A man in uniform said the joggers included some of those who wanted to shake off chemicals before the city government’s scheduled mandatory drug testing for job order employees.


Was it political vendetta?  If true, then it’s maddening. Whoever is behind it is already burning here. If false, then we were conned and used.

We were not born yesterday so we know someone will benefit from another person’s losses.

If we were taken into a ride, can we also ignore the figures around?


Based on PDEA reports our province appears to be a Goliath in drug trade in 2011.


PDEA Bukidnon reported to have seized a total of about P200 million worth of illegal drugs.


About P183 million of it is reported to be marijuana. More than P16 million, according to PDEA, came from seized shabu.


In Davao City, which is probably Mindanao’s biggest city, the Philippine News Agency reported that PDEA seized only a total of P7.8 million of illegal drugs, an increase from the P7 million they had in 2010.

P7.8 million vs. P200 million? How come the big difference?


Whatever is the answer, one thing is clear: illegal drugs was all around and is big time.


Bukidnon’s P200 million confiscated drugs is almost as big as the total cut in the IRA of the province of Bukidnon and the 20 towns and two cities combined – P214 million! It is just P25 million short of the cost of the unfinished public market, terminal and commercial building of Malaybalay! It is even bigger than the personnel services budget of 25 departments in City Hall this year!


If we take the value of the seized marijuana of P183 million out because it’s not every year that Umajamnen tribal leaders surrender marijuana, P16 million for shabu is still more than twice that was seized in Davao!  Why, what’s happening in Bukidnon?

If P200 million worth of illegal drugs were confiscated, how much is the worth of drugs traded and not confiscated in the province?


If eight (or six) city government employees were caught on camera using shabu while in uniform, during office hours – how many others were using illegal drugs after office hours? How many more drug users in city hall or capitol who were not caught on camera?
The thing about the video, which we did not see that cost city hall employees their jobs is just the tip of the iceberg, really.

(BUKIDNON VIEWS is the opinion section of Bukidnon News. Walter I. Balane is editor in chief of Bukidnon News. React via bukidnonews@gmail.com. )


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