Muntinlupa City not just turned text messaging into a revolution, but an effective weapon in a crusade.
Plastered all over the city are billboards rallying people to text a hotline number to confidentially report users and vendors of illegal drugs. The city’s innovative anti-drug abuse campaign, CRUSADA, has been drawing residents’ attention and generating positive response.
An average of 247 text messages and 59 calls are received by the hotline each day, not just from residents, but from those living outside Muntinlupa City as well. About 75 percent of these are drug-related and provide information that lead to arrests.
Vice Mayor Jo Jason T. Alcaraz, who leads CRUSADA, says text messaging allows residents to remain anonymous when they provide vital tips on individuals engaged in illegal drug-related activities.
Messages are immediately relayed to authorities. Task Force Kidlat, the drug enforcement division of the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Office (DAPCO), was formed to focus on surveillance and drug buy-bust operations. The city government also established its own drug-testing laboratory that has the capability to screen for use of marijuana, shabu and ecstasy. Income from its operations partly funds the CRUSADA, especially the Muntinlupa Renewal Home (MRH). Those tested positive for drug use are recommended for rehabilitation at the MRH. Partly subsidized by the city and the barangays, rehabilitation involves counseling for the whole family and a follow-up program for patients.
Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADACs) have also been created to plan, strategize, implement and evaluate drug abuse prevention projects and programs in the barangay level. CRUSADA also plans to set up Workplace Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (WADACs) for random drug testing for employees and sanctions on violators.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 2003 Galing Pook Awards.