By Chito Chavez
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has supported the creation of community-based drug reformatory centers that may be utilized as after-care shelters for thousands of drug surrenderers nationwide.
“Let these centers be catalysts for change. We need to establish refuges where drug surrenderers can rebuild their shattered lives and make themselves whole again,” said PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino.
“From surrenderers to reformers — this is the kind of transformation we aspire for people who have fallen into the abyss of drug abuse. Those who have sought second chance in life will be given a chance to change,” he added.
Aquino said the government’s failure to reform the self-confessed drug users and pushers who voluntarily yielded to authorities would likely lure them back to commit crimes.
He observed that crime rate drops dramatically with the arrest of drug users and pushers.
PDEA would apply a two-pronged approach in ridding illegal drugs in the barangays: Suppressing the main supply and source of illegal drugs by dismantling clandestine shabu laboratories, shabu tiangges and drug dens leading to the arrest of high-value drug personalities; and reformation of drug users/surrenderers.
Reformation centers promote a holistic approach to achieve recovery through intensive physical, mental, social, moral, and spiritual renewal programs.
Free skills training programs would be provided by Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to drug surrenderers to give them source of livelihood or employment opportunities.
Reformation centers and drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers (DATRCs) are different but serve the same purpose, that is, to provide effective measures to reintegrate individuals who have fallen victim to drug dependence through sustainable programs of treatment and rehabilitation.
Aquino said the only difference between the two is the length of the program. “Reformation centers stretch from two to three months, while DATRCs would entail a minimum of six months to one year. Short but effective,” he said.
“In an effort to strengthen the demand-reduction strategy of the national anti-drug campaign, PDEA encourages the formation of reformation centers in the grassroots level, with the aim of weaning the drug surrenderers away from illegal drugs and getting reintegrated into society as law-abiding and productive citizens,” the PDEA chief said, adding that the agency puts premium on the value of human life and, as law enforcers, are duty bound to safeguard it.
PDEA is currently seeking the support of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the approval and implementation of the proposal of building reformation centers in every barangay. If approved, the establishment of these centers would be mandatory for all local government units (LGUs) to implement.
Under Republic Act 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, all LGUs are mandated to appropriate a substantial portion of their annual budgets to assist in or enhance the enforcement of such law, giving priority to preventive or educational programs and the rehabilitation or treatment of drug dependents.
Failure to allocate funds shall be a ground for disapproval of the LGUs’ annual budget on review and for possible administrative case of dereliction of duty pursuant to Section 60 of the Local Government Code and DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) 2015-63.
From conceptualization to implementation, Aquino, as the former regional director of Police Regional Office-3 (PRO-3), has spearheaded “The Bahay-Pagbabago Reformation Program” in every provincial/city police office down to municipal levels to cater to thousands of drug surrenderers in Central Luzon.
Tags: anti-drug campaign, community-based, Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, drug abuse treatment, local government units, Manila Bulletin, PDEA supports creation of community-based reformatory centers, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, TESDA
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