Umali and Padiernos urged local executives in Nueva Ecija to take drug test
By Jason de Asis
GAPAN CITY, April 14, 2011-To dramatize the provincial government’s all-out drive against drug syndicates in Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali and Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos yesterday urged the local chief executives in the province to help fight illegal drugs where they started subjecting themselves to a drug test even as they led thousands of Novo Ecijanos in a fun run in this city’s streets.
Umali accepted the call of Interior and Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo for the local officials to undergo drug tests if only to deliver the message that they clean of the drug menace and thus, have the moral ascendancy to lead the crusade against illegal drugs.
The governor said that he is in favor for the local executives to have the drug test a long time ago and his position has not changed, when asked by newsmen if he would echo Robredo’s call.
Umali, along with Padiernos and board members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, led an estimated 5,000 Novo Ecijanos in an early morning five-kilometer run at the town plaza here for the run-for-a-cause activity dubbed “Takbo laban sa Droga (Run against Drugs). Later, the governor, together with Mayor Christian Tinio and Vice Mayor Rodel Matias, launched the “fiesta caravan” of the Capitol wherein the provincial government provides various forms of services to local residents.
“It is the second fun run activity spearheaded by the provincial government and the third anti-illegal drug mass action following a rally in Palayan City last February and in Cabanatuan,” Umali said.
Padiernos, head of the provincial government’s newly created task force against illegal drugs, said yesterday’s run is one of the biggest statements in the anti-drug campaign, saying that the provincial government is hell-bent on eradicating the drug menace and proof of this was the allocation of P3.5 million for the operation of the task force.
Padiernos agreed with Umali that local officials in the province should voluntarily submit themselves to drug tests if only to show to the public they are fit to join the crusade for good governance.
He said that even when he was still campaigning for vice governor, he had asked all his fellow candidates to take tests. “With all due respect to Secretary Robredo, I was ahead of him in sounding the call for elective officials to take the test,” he said.
Penaranda Mayor Ferdinand Abesamis, newly designated president of the provincial chapter of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, said that the matter is not an issue with him.
“I have no problem with that. In fact, there was a proposal before that if you file your certificate of candidacy, you undergo the drug test. Whether elected or not, one must undergo the drug test,” he said.
Abesamis clarified, however, that drug testing must be voluntary. “Of course, you can’t coerce people to take the test,” he said. (Jason de Asis)
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