Communities leading drug rehab programs

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok October 17,2016 - 08:16 PM

His hardline stance on drug addicts and his belief that they’re beyond redemption notwithstanding, it’s good to hear President Rodrigo Duterte changing his tune after a Chinese trader and philanthropist provided funding for the construction of a 1,400 mega dormitory cum drug rehab facility in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

The facility is expected to be completed next month and gives President Duterte more reasons to feel upbeat about his state visit to China which begins today.

The President is said to be astounded by the generosity of Chinese businessman Mr. Huang Rulun who provided funding for the drug rehab facility inside the military camp in Fort Magsaysay. Mr. Huang is a famous philanthropist who burst into the Chinese media limelight in 2005 after he released a record of his philanthropic donations amounting to $35 million.

People are usually suspicious of big-time businessmen involved in humanitarian projects widely covered by the media because some charitable works are but a cover for nefarious practices like tax evasion, but Mr. Huang broke that negative perception when he made public his 2005 tax payments amounting to $600 million.

It turns out that Mr. Huang migrated to our country in the 1980s, the reason why he has a soft spot for the Philippines. At age 35, he set up his business in Binondo, Manila and from there, began building his empire with Hong Kong as his headquarters. The Chinese billionaire is on top of the privately held real estate empire named Golden Resources. Its investments are practically all over China.

The drug rehab facility in Fort Magsaysay answers the need of drug dependents for institutional treatment, but according to Mr. Rene Francisco who works with lay leader Fe Barino in the community-based drug rehab program called, “SuGod,” these type of drug addicts are but a minuscule in the sea of drug users in the country. They can no longer function at home or at work and would need a battery of medical and psychological treatment in a facility where they are locked up for long periods of time in order to recover.

Reports from the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) say that there are 1.8 million users in the country today. The 3 to 4 million is the number of “lifetime users” or people who have used drugs at one time in their lives.

Even assuming there are 3 million drug addicts, only 1% or 30,000 need institutional treatment, according Negros Oriental Congressman Arnulfo Teves, vice chairman of the House Dangerous Drugs panel.

Teves made this revelation in a recent meeting with drug rehab practitioners last October 12 in Manila.

I gathered the information from Sugod program coordinator Fe Barino who was invited to the same meeting organized by the Office of Vice President Leni Robredo. During the meeting, Cong. Teves said the government’s drug rehab program has a huge budget of P3.1 billion which, will most likely be funneled to the drug rehab centers like the one in Fort Magsaysay.

President Duterte is keen on constructing 2 more similar institutions, one in Bohol and another one in General Santos City. However, if Congress is saying the number of drug addicts who need institutional treatment is only 1% of 3 million, there are apprehensions the program maybe grossly over funded, which means, the money might not be well-spent.

The best option is to outsource the rehabilitation of drug dependents through community-based programs like the one initiated by Fr. Carmelo Diola in Barangay San Roque, Mandaue City and the Sugod program in Yati, Liloan led by charismatic lay leader Fe Barino and the Love of God Community. These are examples of astounding private initiatives that were rolled out minus government assistance.

The meeting organized by the Office of Vice President Leni Robredo and the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs was meant to find out existing drug rehab programs by selected LGUs, faith-based organizations and other NGOs supposedly to find out good rehab models and address sustainability issues and to learn from one another’s experiences in dealing with the problem.

I heard VP Robredo was apprehensive that if drug rehab program strategies are not immediately firmed up and implemented, many more lives will be lost in the ongoing brutal war against illegal drugs. I think she’s saying that putting up a drug facility is one thing, treating the drug addict through a comprehensive and professional strategy is another.

Fortunately, private sector drug rehab practitioners in Cebu are not obsessed with physical structures knowing that the training of facilitators and professional drug rehab practitioners are more critical than a well-appointed facility.

The SuGod program operates through a simple program conducted in a modest facility; Fr. Carmelo Diola’s Labang program also works through an organic facility, beside the parish church and office. What it lacks for in state-of-the-art equipment, it compliments with is the support of family, friends, co-workers, committed volunteers and church ministers who help drug addicts find hope from their prodigal way of life.

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TAGS: anti-dispatching, China, Chinese, Dangerous Drugs Board, DDB, dormitory, drug addict, drug addiction, drug rehab, drug rehab facility, Duterte, fort magsaysay, golden resources, huang, Nueva Ecija., Philippines, President Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte, Rodrigo Duterte

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