Cebu City considers subsidy for drug users’ rehabilitation
A partnership between the Cebu City government and a privately owned company that runs several rehabilitation centers is being forged.
This came as the P2 million budget allocated to the Cebu City Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (COSAP) for treatment costs in its We Care program was found lacking.
The We Care program is intended to provide assistance to the many self-confessed drug users and pushers, some of them needing rehabilitation, who have surrendered either to the police or to their respective barangays following the implementation of the Oplan Tokhang.
COSAP head Dr. Alice Utlang said she brought up the insufficient funding to Mayor Tomas Osmeña who then asked her to create a proposal for assisting the surrenderers and subsidizing their treatment fees at a private rehabilitation facility.
For now there are 103 surrenderers who have applied availment of the We Care program, coming from Barangays Mabolo, Buhisan and Sambag II.
Utlang said the We Care program is intended only for drug users, not long-time addicts, who require treatment in private rehabilitation facilities.
The Family and Recovery Management (FARM), a private company that runs rehabilitation centers in Cebu and Bohol, has expressed willingness to accommodate the We Care clients and give the city a discounted fee.
FARM chief executive officer Jimmy Clemente, who was present during the the consultative meeting between Utlang and Osmeña, said, “What we also agreed with the mayor is that the treatment fee for these drug users should be the same amount the National Bureau of Investigation is offering for their rehab center in Argao. Normally, our in-house patients pay P25,000 per month. NBI Argao offers only P6000 per month. So from P25,000, we will reduce it to P6000.”
FARM has four rehabilitation centers in Cebu, located in Minglanilla, Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City and Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City.
Utlang said that in order to qualify for subsidized treatment, the applicants should be assessed and evaluated by COSAP personnel and the police.
“We are also planning to add another criteria for qualification and that is if they are indeed willing or they voluntarily want to be treated in these facilities,” she said in Cebuano.
She said COSAP’s initial observations showed that 75 percent of the We Care clients need to be admitted to rehabilitation facilities for in-house treatment.
If COSAP’s proposal will be approved, Clemente said they will transfer their patients to their other locations to give way for those subsidized by the city government. He also said they may build another facility for female patients only.
According to Clemente, the duration of stay in their rehabilitation facility varies from one patient to another, and will depend on their assessment.
Osmeña revealed that there is another entity that is also willing to help the surrenderers.
“But I will allow both to operate independently so I can compare and make them compete. Instead of having one, we have two. I don’t know if you’re good until I look at the other one so we will see,” he added.
The mayor suggested to look for a model that they think is the best in implementing this kind of program.
“Look for a model whatever it is, wherever in the world — be in the United States or somewhere. Why would we reinvent everything here when there’s somebody better out there? And we’re not going to spend our money to go there and learn. Because drug addiction there is the same here. The same issue, the same circumstances,” he said.
None of his business
Meanwhile, Osmeña said it is none of Councilor Pastor Alcover’s business where he gets his reward money for neutralized alleged drug lords.
“It is none of his business; I am not answerable to him,” Osmeña said.
Alcover, in a privilege speech during last Monday’s session, demanded an explanation from Osmeña as to the source of the monetary reward given to the policemen who were able to neutralize alleged top drug operators in Cebu, among others.
Osmeña said the money does not come from government funds but from his own personal pocket.
The mayor also said he did not bother asking slain alleged drug lord Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz why he offered him money because he was not interested in the offer in the first place. /UP Cebu Intern Morexette Marie Erram With Nestle L. Semilla
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