Thursday, January 26, 2017

DILG forms MASA-MASID teams in Bicol villages to act as 'good governance advocates'
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 25 (PNA) —- A top official of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Bicol said the agency is now forming Mamamayan Ayaw sa Anomalya, Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga (MASA-MASID) teams in over one thousand barangays or one third of the total number of barangays in the region which have been affected by the illegal drug program.

Grace Joy Tango, information officer of DILG-Bicol, said the program, which encourages volunteers to fight crimes at the barangay (village) level, targets to implement the MASA-MASID program in 1,114 out of 3,471 barangays in the entire Bicol region.

She said the barangays were selected in terms of the degree in which they were affected by the proliferation of the illegal drug problem as reported by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“The program encourages support from the grassroots to the regional level to fight corruption, criminality and illegal drugs,” said Tango.

She said DILG will not engage in recruiting volunteers to the program but will encourage the people in the barangays to volunteer.

Tango identified three implementation strategies of the program: “demand reduction” through advocacy and education campaigns; “supply reduction” through information gathering and reporting; and community-based rehabilitation.

She said in the demand reduction stage, volunteers will inform, educate and disseminate information to fellow villagers on the ill effects of illegal drugs, criminality and corruptions.

"This is not only about illegal drugs, a MASA-MASID team can report any barangay official who is corrupt or involved in any anomaly,” said Tango.

She added volunteers can also report on criminals hiding in the locality.

Tango said during the supply reduction stage, which is a more sensitive stage, the volunteers are tasked to gather information and report to authorities the information they have gathered.

“They will be the “ears and eyes” of the government,” she said.

Meanwhile, the community-based rehabilitation stage consists of a 48-week program designed by the DILG for the “light to moderate” drug surrenderers.

The program consists of a series of activities that will be facilitated by medical professionals, religious or faith-based organizations in their respective cities or municipalities.

“We are not discouraging other barangays from creating MASA-MASID teams in their barangays since the project is not limited to illegal drugs alone,” Tango said.

She said priority is only given to the 1,114 barangays.

In Catanduanes, MASA-MASID teams have been formed in 148 barangays: with 31 in Viga, 62 in Virac, 5 in San Miguel, 27 in Bato and 23

In Camarines Sur, teams have been organized in 78 barangays with an orientation already held in 27 barangays.

Tango said individuals who want to volunteer will undergo screening to be conducted by the Ugnayan ng Barangay at Simbahan (UBAS), a technical working group that “monitors the delivery of services while promoting good governance, transparency and inter-faith participation at the grassroots level.”

“UBAS also aims to develop barangays as centers of development by empowering citizens into good governance advocates while strengthening cooperation between the barangay, church and government for the effective delivery of social services,” said Tango.

The MASA-MASID program was among the topics included in the first regular meeting of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) that was convened last Monday by Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal, who was newly appointed to the post by President Rodrigo Duterte.

During the RPOC meeting, authorities underscored problems on the aspect of rehabilitation and treatment of thousands of drug surrenderers. (PNA) LAP/GVR/CBD/