March 24, 2022 – Three Filipino public school student leaders shared school and community perspectives on preventive drug education in the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Youth Forum 2022.

Grade 12 students Lara Victoria C. De Guzman of Francisco E. Barzaga Integrated High School, Division of Dasmariñas City; John Edward E. Sabeniano of Supang-Datag National High School, Division of Catanduanes; and Annika A. Elinzano of Mangatarem National High School, Division of Pangasinan I noted their viewpoints in promoting drug prevention education efforts.

“As a Barkada Kontra Droga President in my school, I will integrate everything that I’ve learned and transform it into doable programs to reach out to those who are in dire need of help in my community,” De Guzman noted.

On the other hand, Elinzano learned that we should focus more on developing the individual, not the drug. She said that “we can change and improve our initiatives that focus more on an evidence-based approach.”

“The forum has empowered us to bring positive outcomes in areas such as mental health and valuing physical health that has a big role in producing a better community,” Sabeniano emphasized.

Organized virtually last February 28 to March 4, this year’s forum brought together around 75 young leaders to learn about evidence-based drug use prevention, discuss various perspectives on the world drug problem, and be empowered to continue action.

“While the Department is working on new methods in drug prevention education, we believe that the youth can effectively participate by identifying the needs and possibilities for the prevention in their communities,” Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said.

UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly emphasized that while the young are among the most vulnerable and the most affected by drug use, their passion and modern views are better than anyone else in achieving true and lasting change to communities.

“Your engagement will be essential in raising awareness, changing attitudes, and developing solutions,” UNODC ED Waly said to the participants.

The Office of the Undersecretary for Administration (OUA) through the Bureau of Learner Support Services – Youth Formation Division (BLSS-YFD) endorsed the three chosen candidates to the forum after review of application and interview process with designated advisers Juniel Arvin Doloque and Jufeel Pulvosa.

Youth Forum, an annual event organized by the UNODC Youth Initiative in the broader context of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), gathered young people nominated by the Member States and active in the field of drug use prevention, health promotion, and youth empowerment from around the world.