PDEA pushes uniform youth anti-drug advocacy program

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino is pushing for the creation of a uniform anti-drug advocacy program for Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) leaders and their youth constituents.

Known as “Sangguniang Kabataan Standard Training in Extensive Anti-Drug Preventive Education – A Uniform Program for Youth Leaders (SK STEP-UP), the program was approved and adopted under Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Board Regulation No. 5 Series of 2019 on June 27, 2019.

“This paved the way to the guidelines institutionalizing a uniform preventive education program in anti-drug advocacy complementing the demand reduction campaign for the youth leaders in the community,” Aquino told the 8,000 youth leaders during the recent SK Summit at Bren Guiao Convention Center in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga.

The SK STEP-UP is designed as a supervisory level preventive education training program aimed at empowering the SK and barangay youth leaders to be Certified Anti-Drug Advocates cascading and harmonizing the government’s drug demand reduction strategy down to the grassroots level.

The youth leaders of the community, specifically SK officials, shall be responsible in the regular conduct of prevention activities and organizing anti-drug events in their barangays, lead by example, and empower and inspire their age groups to stay away from illegal drugs.
The SK STEP-UP has three phases namely: Youth Camp; Trainer’s Training for the Youth Leaders; and Ground Implementation, Monitoring, and Evaluation.

Youth Camp

The local government units (LGUs), through their Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (ADACs), shall hold two to three days youth camp with local SK Federation chairmen, councilors, or selected youth leaders as participants.

Besides supervising the youth camp, PDEA shall provide the subject matter experts (SMEs), camp program and mechanics while the LGU will be responsible for the logistical requirements for the event.

During the camp, participants are expected to exchange ideas, cultural experiences, best practices, talents, and related skills. They will be assessed by the program officials and coordinators based on their competencies and leadership potential for them to be considered in the next phase.

Trainer’s training for the youth leaders

The participants who passed the competency requirement of Phase 1 will attend a 5-day Trainer’s Training of Youth Leaders.

The training modules include the SK STEP-UP Program’s Administration; Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention Education (DAPE); Communication and Life Skills Development; Practical Community Immersion; Basic Research and Development; and Formulation of Action Plans and Implementation.

“Upon successful completion of the trainer’s training program, graduating participants will be conferred the distinction as SK STEP-UP Certified Anti-Drug Advocates,” said Aquino.

The new anti-drug advocates are expected to conduct the ground implementation of their action plans for their respective barangays. They need to submit quarterly reports of barangay advocacies to their ADACs to monitor the functionality and operationalization of the program.

As chairman for the National Secretariat for the SK STEP-UP Program, the PDEA shall orchestrate, coordinate and oversee the successful implementation of the program, in collaboration with the DDB, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Youth Commission (NYC), as members of the National Secretariat.

The program also requires participation from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Education (DepED), Department of Health (DOH), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), for technical, logistical, security, intelligence, and other related assistance and support.

The primary source of funds shall be borne by the LGUs, in accordance Republic Act 9165 or “The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002” Private corporations may also provide funding as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Appropriate charges will be filed against local executives and officials who will fail to perform their functions based on the provisions of Board Regulation No. 5.

Likewise, the failure of the LGUs to appropriate a substantial portion of their annual budgets to assist in the implementation of anti-drug advocacy programs in their communities shall be ground for disapproval of their annual budget.

“The youth is the voice of this nation. They have the energy and passion to help the government solidify the future of our next generation. Let us give our young people the chance for their voices to be heard,” Aquino said.