Fight the war on drugs with rehab centers

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

Yesterday after officiating the Holy Mass with the Sons of David, which meets every Monday mornings at the Cebu Country Club, Fr. Carmelo Diola gave the members the true picture of the effects of the war on drugs, which most of us have read in our national and local dailies. But somehow the magnitude or the impact of this war has not really struck us as a nation. What I did not expect was for Fr. Diola to tell us that what is happening to this country is similar to our being hit once more by super typhoon Yolanda!

When Fr. Diola mentioned that this is another Yolanda type of disaster, it really struck a deep chord that indeed this war on drugs waged by President Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte isn't just a simple war. It is a complex war that should be fought by all Filipinos and not just the Duterte administration. If you recall, nearly a million Filipinos from all walks of life died because of World War II and millions more displaced by that war. So if you checked the numbers that have been affected by this war on drugs, it has affected more than 3 million Filipinos! In Central Visayas alone, the numbers are staggering to at least 52,000 who are known drug addicts.

Mind you, in a war that affects millions of our people, chances are, the national government goes into the war effort and mobilizes the nation and the citizenry to help. During World War II, when America went to war against Japan, the men volunteered to fight the war in the Pacific and in the European Theater, while the women took on the jobs of their husbands in thousands of factories mobilized to build the war machinery to win the war. Yes, it was the women of America who built the B-17 Super Fortress bombers, the P-51 Mustang fighter planes, jeeps, trucks, guns, and machine guns, naval, and cargo ships, and thousands of Sherman tanks for our soldiers to use in the war.

So Fr. Diola dropped the question on us, what do we do in order to help the thousands of drug addicts that have surrendered to the police authorities in the hope that they won't become part of the national statistics on the death toll on this drug wars. But in surrendering to their barangay captains or the police, these government agencies have now been overwhelmed and many are at a loss on what they can do to help bring back these drug addicts to a normal life. This was perhaps the biggest challenge posed by Fr. Diola to us and I reckon that it is time of the private sector to respond positively and help the Duterte administration fight this war versus illegal drugs.

Of course, the biggest question that we asked Fr. Diola is, what is the Catholic Church doing about this problem? Of course we know enough that the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines has been fighting a word war with Duterte, blaming the latter on the numerous killings that have begun since his election into the Office of the President. But in the end, the CBCP has only alienated the President by this war of words. This is why I'm so thankful that our beloved His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, despite his frail health and his being retired, went out of his way to meet with President Duterte and thaw out the strained relations with the Princes of the Church.

I also gathered from Fr. Diola that Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael "Mike" Sueño came here in Cebu in order to meet with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma because the Duterte administration is looking for the right template to rehabilitate these drug offenders. I have no doubt that the government is already overwhelmed by this problem and the DILG is looking for partners in this endeavor. If we tapped the parish-based organizations to form rehabilitation groups and create drug rehab centers, then at least, it would be a good start to solve this problem.

I know for a fact that Fr. Diola's group, the Dilaab Foundation, Inc. has been working for many years in the fight against corruption and the drug problem. What he told us yesterday was for us to grab this rare opportunity for a New Evangelization because if we do not put a spiritual dimension when we rehabilitate a drug addict, we are not going to get far. Perhaps the biggest question posed yesterday was, "can we trust a drug addict to reform?" If we don't trust him, then we cannot move forward.

We know well enough the prediction of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the final battle between good and evil is through the family and life. Yet it is the use of illegal drugs that has destroyed many lives and broke apart many families. At this point, Fr. Diola advised us to create Narcotics Anonymous or NA that could guide these drug offenders back to the fold of society. But he clearly stated that NA could only work if it has a spiritual dimension and this is the job of charismatic organizations.

So we urge the various parish-based organizations to open up their doors and embrace this "New Evangelization" being presented to us so we could help our people especially those drug offenders win this war on illegal drugs.

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