THERES' no shortage of government aid for drug dependents and pushers who surrender to the Project Tokhang, which flushes them out as a step to winning the War on Drugs.
According to “It takes a village” by Cherry Ann T. Lim, which was published by SunStar Cebu on March 5, there are at least 16 agencies composing the National Drug Rehabilitation Program. Many of these agencies have funded programs addressing the Drug War, from education and prevention to drug rehabilitation.
However, to get hold of aid for aftercare needs, such as medicine, education, and cash for training and work, drug surrenderers must prove that they have undergone government-run rehabilitation.
On March 3-6, SunStar Cebu ran a four-part special report, “After the Tokhang.” On March 13 and March 16, the paper’s editorials highlighted the major findings from the special report series’ first two parts, published on March 3 and 4.
The third part of the special reports on March 5 surfaced a need for program innovations to reach out to more surrenderers.
Values formation is the major thrust for drug users who come from well-off families but have family problems. This strategy is also identified for the youth, whether in- or out-of-school, who are pressured by peers and circumstances to experiment with drugs.
Partnerships with faith-based organizations and community volunteers are not just essential but crucial for complementing the government’s efforts but also supplementing the multi-pronged approach to extend rehabilitation through spiritual, counseling and physical activities.
In “Who is watching the children?,” Lim reported that despite seemingly high awareness among youths of the dangers of illegal drug use, the Police Regional Office 7 still rounded up 2,203 minors in Cebu during Tokhang operations from July 1, 2016 to Feb. 2, 2017, a seven-month period.
Specialists differ in their perception of the duration of rehabilitation, with some estimating it takes six months to a year and others believing that staying off drugs demands lifetime vigilance on the part of the former drug dependent and his or her family.
Thus, there is a need to make drug rehabilitation programs more accessible. For instance, the aftercare program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development is limited only to those coming from government-run rehabilitation centers.
Standing for Strategies Toward Acceptance, Reintegration and Transformation of Poor Recovering Drug Dependents, the Start program involved only 25 beneficiaries and their families in five pilot areas in Cebu and Negros Oriental.
Now on the last phase of its three-year piloting, the Start program is being evaluated. According to the March 5 special report, “One thing worth evaluating under the Start program may be whether it should… cast the net wider to include those who received treatment from community-based rehab programs, which would likely be more accessible to the marginalized.”
Not to be overlooked for assistance in recovering from drug dependence and reintegrating with the community are former drug pushers.
Social workers debunk poverty as the primary reason why the poor peddle illegal drugs. “The money in drugs is big and comes fast,” social welfare officer Aileen Cuevas was quoted in the SunStar Cebu special report on March 5.
Can persons in conflict with the law redirect their values and lives?
The Department of the Interior and Local Government recently launched the Mamamayang Ayaw sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw sa Iligal Na Droga (Masa Masid). Masa Masid involves volunteers from civil society to undertake multi-pronged approaches to complex challenges that require an entire village to address.
Thus, it is crucial that this initiative should not be associated only with advocacy and education and information gathering and reporting. Drug rehabilitation is key to ensuring life goes on for surrenderers and their families, as well as for communities, after Tokhang.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 20, 2017.
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