Archdiocese connects with drug victims

A YEAR after launching its program for drug dependents, the Archdiocese of Cebu has partnered with 14 barangays and mobilized 300 volunteers to help drug dependents in their path toward recovery.

Under the Cebu Archdiocesan Program for Drug Dependents (CAPDD) launched on Feb. 21, 2017, “the Church comes together with various sectors, particularly the barangay, local government officials, and the police—and other sectors—to connect ourselves with drug addicts, their families, and immediate community to help them regain their health and integrity,” Archbishop of Cebu Jose Palma said in a pastoral statement released for the program’s first anniversary today.

“The CAPDD has two models: the Surrender to God (SuGod), which is the more charismatic approach, and the Lahat Bangon (Labang),” said Fr. Carmelo Diola, Dilaab Foundation Inc. chairman and Ugnayan ng Barangay at Simbahan (Ubas) National Technical Working Group member, Monday.

Giving help

Under Labang, where 10 parishes are currently involved, more than 100 drug dependents are receiving help, said Labang program director Tess Tejero.

Labang was initiated by the Ubas to help Oplan Tokhang surrenderers in their reintegration in society. Oplan Tokhang is the program of the police to knock on the doors of suspected drug users and pushers and ask them to stop their illegal drug activities.

“Labang began in June 2016 in Barangay Subangdaku, Mandaue City with the barangay captain (Ernie Manatad), me and the police,” said Diola. The Subangdaku program, with San Roque Parish as partner, has helped some 50 drug dependents.

Today, in Cebu City, the San Isidro Parish in Talamban is helping 17 drug dependents, referred to as clients, from Barangays Talamban, San Jose, Budlaan and Bacayan. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish is helping 15 clients from Barangay Camputhaw; Sto. Niño Parish in Pasil (38 clients, Barangays Suba and Sawang Calero); Sacred Heart Parish on D. Jakosalem St. (10 clients, Barangay Zapatera); and Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral (10 clients, Barangay San Roque).

Tejero said a kickoff of Labang is set for Barangay Apas, Cebu City, with St. Jude Parish of the Military Ordinariate as partner, and at Barangay Nangka with Consolacion Parish as partner; while at the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish in Barangay Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City, a kickoff was already held with 60 surrenderers from Barangays Agus, Basak, Marigondon and Basbas attending.

The Sto. Rosario Parish is now in the organizing stage, with a barangay yet to be chosen.

Dilaab executive director Gladys Ceniza said a Cebu parish usually covers five to seven barangays. It is up to the barangays to accept the invitation of the parishes for partnership in the CAPDD.

“We have found out that in providing pastoral accompaniment, our communities, i.e. parishes and barangays, are themselves being transformed, as we overcome our apathy and self-referentiality to become vibrant communion of communities,” Palma said in his statement.

Donated meals

In the Talamban parish, for instance, after calls were made at mass for donations for the meals of drug dependents in its community-based recovery program, donors responded with an avalanche of eggs and rice, Tejero said.

Diola said 300 volunteers have been made available from the Archdiocese and the parishes to help in the program.

Among them are teachers and graduate students of the psychology departments of St. Theresa’s College and University of San Carlos who help the parishes in Capitol and Talamban, respectively, with lectures and counseling of drug dependents.

As for SuGod, executive director Fe Barino said 566 drug dependents had completed its six-day intensive SuGod Recovery and Renewal Program, the first phase of the program, since SuGod was launched by the Love of God community in Liloan in August 2016.

Of these, about 20-30 percent have continued with their recovery plan as shown by their moving on to the next phase, which is the 30-day SuGod Continuing Care Program where they do Bible study, and get psycho-education and spiritual assistance; and by their showing up at SuGod events.

“SuGod is not just for surrenderers,” Barino said. “Some (drug dependents) are referred by charismatic communities and barangays.”

The third phase, where they can join a livelihood program, can accommodate only 12 people at a time in a halfway house where they live and work, so Barino said they are building two dorms that would accommodate 20 people each in a five-hectare property to host the SuGod Village.

In his statement, Palma called on everyone to “show solidarity with our parish priests and volunteers by being involved in this new apostolate.”

“We want to make drug surrenderers feel that they are not left behind,” he said.
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