Cebu News

Church backs government efforts to help drug surrenderers

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – The local church will help government solve the "overwhelming" problem of rehabilitating drug surrenderers.

"We, in the level of the civil society, are here to say that yes we are one on this… I pledged the support of the Church and I told them that the doors of the Church will be opened in this regard," Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma told reporters.

He said parishes across Cebu will help provide regular fellowships and counseling.

Palma joined representatives from the government, police force, and non-government organizations in a meeting with Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno last week.

Governor Hilario Davide III was also at the meeting.  The meeting was aimed at creating an integrated program for drug surrenderers.

"We believe that if we will be working together, some better things will happen," the 66-year-old prelate said.

Fr. Carmelo Diola, executive director of Dilaab Foundation, Inc., the facilitator of the close-door meeting, said what the organization wants to promote is a community-based drug treatment service that will provide psycho-social intervention to drug dependents or social users for free.

"What we will be doing right now is to form Narcotics Anonymous fellowships (which is) the next best thing to having a rehab that is professionally handled. That will serve as a support group," Diola said.

"That is the next best thing that is why that has to be supported. We are calling on every parish under the archdiocese to provide a room for Narcotics Anonymous fellowship that may be held weekly or three times a week," Diola said.

In Lapu-Lapu City, at least 1,400 drug surrenderers are scheduled to begin community service today, said P/Senior Supt. Rommel Cabagnot, chief of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office.

"Ang city, dunay program pud nga tabangan nila ang mga surrenderee (pinaagi) sa mga ginagmay’ng trabaho kung unsay mahatag nila with coordination sa mga kumpanya. Kami naman, kinahanglan ma-validate to ang mga ni-surrender, kung kinsa pwede mo-trabaho, kung kinsa pwede i-rehab," Cabagnot said.

Aware that the city is yet to build its own rehabilitation center, Cabagnot said providing activities for the surrenderers will be an alternative way to distract them from returning to illegal drugs.

"Actually ang usa sa mga problema nga nakita, wala pay drug rehab center. Samtang wala pa'y rehab, ato silang tagaan og kalingawan (basin) mubalik unya sila," he said.

Five police stations in the city will oversee the community service activities.

"Actually, by station ang schedule. Last week, nangita gani mi og instructor sa Zumba," Cabagnot disclosed.

The other activities include cleaning the city's surroundings.

In a recent report, Radaza said the city government will provide livelihood to the drug surrenderees through City Social Welfare Services "cash-for-work program" and Lapu-Lapu City Cooperative and Livelihood Resource Center including private companies. —/JMO (FREEMAN)


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