MANILA – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. said they will be utilizing the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in the ongoing campaign against illegal drugs.
This was made possible under the DILG’s Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan (BIDA) program.
“The partnership of DILG and PBA will not only strengthen the campaign against illegal drugs, but will also send out a message to the PBA teams, players and fans, that the league is against and will not tolerate the adverse effects of illegal drugs,” Abalos said in a press conference during Game 4 of the Ginebra San Miguel-TNT Tropang Giga Governors’ Cup championship at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Sunday.
“We are aware that this is the first time, since its inception, that the PBA joined hands with the government in the fight against illegal drugs kaya una na po ang aming pasasalamat (that is what we are thankful for,” he added.
Abalos said the government banks on the “massive influence of basketball to Filipinos, especially the youth, in communicating BIDA’s objective.’’
Abalos said the BIDA program is not solely focused on supply reduction but also centered on demand reduction, adding that the pushers and suppliers are usually targeting the youth.
With the youth being fans of basketball players, Abalos said the youth can emulate their idols who will serve as role models for them.
Likewise, the DILG chief emphasized the indispensable role of sports as a deterrent against the use of illegal drugs.
“With this partnership, we expect to promote and advocate for sports as an effective solution to prevent the youth from subscribing to illegal drugs,” he added.
The DILG chief bared that through this collaboration, made official through the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), the PBA is expected to upscale its drug testing initiatives in accordance with Republic Act (RA) No. 9165, or the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002” among its players and staff.
Under the MOA, the PBA players will also sport the BIDA program logo on their jerseys during PBA-sanctioned games and disseminate campaign collaterals and advocacy materials in an effort to increase awareness towards its widespread national platform regarding the dangers of illegal drugs.
“’Whole-of-nation’ has always been our battle cry in the government’s fight against illegal drugs and in the implementation of BIDA. Nagpapasalamat kami sa PBA (we thank the PBA) for answering the call and for joining us in this fight,” he said.
PBA chairperson Ricky Vargas and commissioner Willie Marcial presided over the formalization of the partnership through the signing of the MOA which they hoped would spark and reinvigorate the message of the BIDA program by leveraging the league’s audience and nationwide reach.
Abalos added that the partnership between the DILG and the PBA will serve as a springboard for the BIDA Workplace, a planned congregation of private companies that aims to strengthen the campaign’s directive by formulating independent drug policies.
He also praised the independent efforts of the PBA in maintaining a drug-free working environment.
“I would like to commend the efforts of the PBA in their intervention and preventive initiatives. Rest assured that with this collaboration, we will be able to take our advocacy to new heights.” (PNA)