ONLY less than half of the total number of drug surrenderers in Cebu underwent rehabilitation, either through a center or a community-based program.

This was the observation made by Cebu Provincial Anti-Drugs Office (CPDAO) head Carmen Durano-Meca.

Meca said there are 42,158 drug surrenderers recorded in Cebu as of Dec. 8 but only few underwent a rehabilitation program.

In Bogo City, for example, Meca said it has 1,431 drug surrenderers but fewer than 200 volunteered to be rehabilitated.

Meca cited as reason the “non-binding” undertaking that the drug users and pushers signed when they surrendered to the police.

“The real question right now really is after they surrender, what steps are to be taken?” she said.

According to Meca, the undertaking the drug users or pushers sign when they surrender states that they will stop their illegal activities.

After signing the agreement, a social welfare officer will then assess them to determine the extent of their involvement in illegal drugs.

The officer will either refer the surrenderers to a rehabilitation center or to a community-based rehabilitation program.

The surrenderer’s names are then furnished by the police to the barangays where they live so they will be monitored.

If the surrenderers fail to participate in a rehabilitation program or they will return to their old ways, Meca said the barangays will report their names to the police for appropriate action.

For those who underwent a rehabilitation program, Meca said they will undergo an aftercare assessment before they will be reintegrated to the community.

The CPADAO chief said she intends to meet with the Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Commission, the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to address the problem on the rehabilitation of the drug surrenderers.

As this develops, Meca said eight barangay officials in the province are allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade but she begged off from disclosing what local government unit they belong.

Meca said their names have been given to the police for validation and confirmation.

In a separate interview, Association of Barangay Councils President Celestino Martinez III said his office has not yet received the names of the barangay officials.

Martinez expressed concern about the matter, saying that the barangay officials’ primary duty is to serve the community.

“If they will create a bad image to our organization, our group will be dragged into the issue,” he said.

Martinez urged the police to investigate and validate the information.