RENATO Martel Jr. admitted that he initially hesitated to surrender to the authorities when the police intensified their campaign against illegal drugs.

But Martel, who started using drugs at the age of 13, said he eventually saw the benefits of the government’s anti-drug programs. So he surrendered. His life has changed since then.

Pirmiro di gyod ko willing mo-surrender. Naa ko sa watch list... Ni-try kog surrender para malimpiyo akong ngan (Initially, I did not want to surrender. I was listed in the drug watch list. I decided to surrender to clear my name),” he said.

He was among the surrenderers who regularly attended the different activities initiated by the police so drug users and pushers will no longer go back to their old ways.

For doing so, Martel, a resident of Barangay Canduman in Mandaue City, was among the former drug addicts who received a Christmas gift from the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) in partnership with a foreign outreach worker.

Outreach

MCPO and the Feed My Lambs Ministry, led by Joseph Borba, an American Catholic evangelist, conducted a joint outreach program to the 189 indigents and 38 selected drug surrenderers from different barangays in the city.

Borba delivered a message and gave Bibles to the attendees at the Norkis Park on D.M. Cortes St. in Mandaue City. Police distributed free porridge and drinks.

SPO3 Kerwin Bejer of the MCPO Police Community Relations said they gave out 227 5-kilo packs of rice worth P49,940. The funds were provided by Borba.

These were placed in red eco-bags with the numbers of MCPO for Oplan Texthang, the anti-drug program of the Mandaue City Police.

“MCPO intentionally printed the MCPO numbers on the bags so the people can easily text to the police if there are any illegal drug activities in their area. Then they will get free phone load and goodies if they send messages to us,” Bejer said.

Lectures

In a separate interview, Borba said he thought of holding spiritual lectures for the surrenderers after he saw on the internet that the police were holding Zumba dance classes for them.

“The police are happy. The surrenderers are happy and I am so happy... MCPO are trying to show the people that they are not the enemy, they are friends of the people,” Borba said.

Martel was able to convince his friends who were drug users and pushers to surrender. He was able to get freebies and goodies from the MCPO for doing so.

He said he learned a lot during their Bible study and felt blessed that he was given a chance to renew his life.

He shared what he learned from the lecture with the other people.

“I was disappointed when people laughed at me when I told them about the Bible. I was glad they eventually listened,” Martel said in Cebuano.

Martel said he now regularly attends mass.

“Maybe God made me an instrument to help others change their ways,” he said.