, Philippines

DILG's BIDA Program wins National Social Welfare Initiative of the Year at Gov Media Awards 2023

The BIDA Program by the Philippines’ DILG engages communities, stakeholders, and partners to raise awareness, promote wellness, and tackle the effects of illegal drug use and trade.

Illegal drugs can become a significant concern for governments due to their far-reaching impact on various aspects of society. Their prevalence poses complex challenges that extend beyond individual health concerns. Given this, governments play a crucial role in addressing these challenges through policies, programmes, and international cooperation to mitigate the adverse effects of illegal drug use and trade on society.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) of the Philippines has been honoured with the National Social Welfare Initiative of the Year award at the Gov Media Awards 2023 in Singapore. The award recognises the efforts of the DILG's Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan (Protect Life, Reject Drugs) Program, or BIDA Program, in combating the proliferation of illegal drugs and its approach towards addressing this issue.

Guided by the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drug Strategy, the BIDA Program highlights the commitment of DILG in its fight against illegal drugs. This medium- to long-term initiative encompasses a multi-faceted approach to curbing the demand for illegal drugs within communities whilst simultaneously addressing the supply side in a manner that is within the framework of the law and with respect for human rights.

Collaborative efforts against illegal drugs

The BIDA Program is built on three key pillars: prevention; law enforcement, prosecution, and correction; and rehabilitation, wellness, and reintegration. It fosters collaboration between various stakeholders. This includes partnerships with non-governmental organisations, local government units, law enforcement agencies, civil society, and faith-based organisations to collectively advocate for the reduction of drug supply and demand.

For instance, the DILG collaborated with the Philippine Basketball Association to boost the BIDA Program. To reach Filipino youth, cited as the common targets of drug pushers, the sports association’s players acted as ambassadors for the programme. “Whatever their idols do, the children will follow. And for us, this kind of partnership will give us a big boost in our campaign,” said Benjamin Abalos, head of the DILG. The department also coordinated with the local government unit of Pasig in Metro Manila to encourage residents to be advocates of the BIDA Program.

Central to BIDA’s mission is an expansive Information, Education, and Communication campaign aiming to increase public awareness regarding the dangers of illegal drugs. Moreover, it aims to promote health and wellness, strengthen institutions involved in drug reduction activities, and encourage multi-sectoral participation.

Abalos expressed his gratitude for the recognition and stressed the importance of a united approach in the fight against illegal drugs. He remarked, "The recognition from Gov Media has elevated the BIDA Program to the international stage, where it can serve as a platform for the Philippines to strengthen inter-country cooperation in combating the global problem of illegal drugs."

Making strides through the ‘whole-nation’ approach

Abalos acknowledged that the Philippine government’s anti-illegal drugs drive still has “a long way to go,” but he believes that a “whole-of-nation” approach through the BIDA Program will allow different sectors of society to be involved in the campaign.

As per the DILG, over 31,000 stakeholders have pledged their support for the BIDA Program, whilst 13 out of the Philippines’ 16 regions have already initiated their own local BIDA Programs. Additionally, over 702 local governments have actively participated in BIDA Program activities, demonstrating the broad engagement it facilitates.

In collaboration with the private sector, 33 organisations have signed a memorandum of understanding with DILG. In that, they committed to implementing the drug-free workplace programme in their respective offices.

Meanwhile, on the law enforcement front, the police force has conducted 14 successful operations from January to April 2023. These operations consequently led to the arrest of 19 drug suspects and the confiscation of illegal drugs valued at approximately PHP 10b (approximately US$18m).

The BIDA Program and its aim to build a community-driven approach to addressing the prevalence of illegal drugs earned DILG recognition at the Gov Media Awards.

In his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Marcos declared that the campaign against illegal drugs will continue under his leadership, with DILG’s BIDA Program focusing on the areas of education, livelihood, rehabilitation, health, and wellness in addressing the drug problem. 

“The campaign against illegal drugs continues—but it has taken on a new face. It is now geared towards community-based treatment, rehabilitation, education, and reintegration, to curb drug dependence amongst our affected citizenry,” he said.

The Gov Media Awards celebrates excellence in government projects and initiatives across Asia. The awards programme, presented by Gov Media, announced its winners for this year at a digital awards presentation on 21 July 2023. The in-person awards ceremony followed on 24 July 2023 at Conrad Centennial Singapore.

The Gov Media Awards is presented by Gov Media Magazine. To view the full list of winners, click here. If you want to join the 2024 awards programme and be recognised for your organisation's government projects and initiatives, please contact Jane Patiag at [email protected].

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