Cebu News

Mandaue creates TWG to help surrenderers

Garry B. Lao - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - A technical working group was created by the city government of Mandaue to prepare the bridge program for drug surrenderers who cannot be accommodated in rehabilitation centers.

Vice Mayor Carlo Pontico Fortuna, who was tasked by Mayor Gabriel Luigi Quisumbing to formulate a rehabilitation program that will address the lack of rehabilitation centers, said the TWG will prepare the plan for the more than 1,400 surrenderers.

The TWG is composed of City Health, City Social Welfare Ofice, Philippine National Police, Liga ng mga Barangay, and members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

"Right now, the initial bridge program will focus on rehabilitation," Fortuna said.

There were already 1,467 drug users who voluntarily surrendered to the police since "Oplan Tokhang" has started.

Fortuna said that the barangays will help identify the facilities where the program will be conducted as well as encourage drug dependents to participate. 

For the needed medical support, Fortuna said they are still waiting for the program to be rolled out by the Department of Health. He, however, said they have already identified possible pool of medical professionals that can help the program since the city does not have enough medical staff.

"We will be possibly asking the doctors and nurses in medical institutions in Mandaue City to perhaps volunteer and assist the city in the same way for the psycho-social aspect of the rehabilitation program," Fortuna said.

Since the city has only six social workers, the TWG will be tapping guidance counselors of different public and private schools who are trained psychologists as well as religious groups for the psycho-social program.

"After we have finalize the bridge program, we will legislate this with the approval of the mayor since this will also entail not just manpower resources but financial as well," Fortuna added.

The Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) has already initiated complementary assistance such as employment to drug surrenderers.

MCCI president Glenn Soco said that the business sector will craft employment and livelihood initiatives to complement the proposed bridge program.

Soco said the business sector will find a way to support drug dependents who surrendered by providing them the way out from drug dependency. The chamber still has to study this initiative, as interventions like rehabilitation, psychological therapies are needed for drug dependents to be qualified to enter the workforce. (FREEMAN)

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