AT LEAST 289 persons surrendered to the police in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue, as well as Consolacion town, on Monday, July 4, and promised to stop using or selling illegal drugs.
But some of them asked for help in dealing with withdrawal pains and for diversions that will keep them from using drugs again.
“We believe that this is because of the president’s commitment to eradicate illegal drugs,” said Mandaue Mayor Gabriel Luis Quisumbing, who promised to examine potential livelihood programs for recovering addicts and pushers.
“We want to make sure that this change they undertake is a permanent one,” Quisumbing added.
Where did the surrenders take place? There were 31 who turned up before the police in Consolacion town, 127 in three barangays in Cebu City, and 131 from Mandaue City.
Among those who surrendered in Consolacion were a 15-year-old fourth grader and a 16-year-old high school dropout.
“They admitted they were runners of a drug pusher whom we already arrested,” said Senior Insp. Wilson Abot, the town’s police chief, in a phone interview.
Five of the top illegal drug pushers in the northern town were among those who surrendered, Abot said.
The police chief said he will ask social workers to help the minors and arrange for the 16-year-old to be admitted to an alternative learning system.
Last Saturday, 38 junkies and pushers, including a minor, surrendered in Consolacion. Fifteen more went to the police station the next day. Most came from the villages of Pulpogan, Lamac and Casili.
The latest batch expressed their desire to surrender when the police knocked on their doors Monday morning, as part of Oplan Tokhang.
Two junkies also surrendered to Danao City Police Station on Monday, but they were released because they have no pending cases.
To create a diversion from drugs, users and pushers are asking for programs from the barangays that can help them battle their withdrawal pains.
More than 127 users and pushers surrendered to the police stations of Sawang Calero, Pardo and Mambaling in Cebu City Monday.
One of those who surrendered in Cebu City was Will (real name withheld), who started using drugs at 15. Now 32, he finally decided to surrender to the police, saying he was tired of relying on drugs.
Rain or shine
He said he had long wanted to change, but friends kept influencing him to use drugs. He plays basketball to keep his mind off the habit.
When asked if he has been experiencing any symptoms of withdrawal, he said he’s constantly hungry.
According to Joel Sable Sr., barangay captain Suba, every month they organize basketball competitions. Those who have surrendered will be prioritized in these activities so they wouldn’t be lured by drugs again.
In a related development, a police team didn’t let last Saturday’s heavy rain stop them from implementing Oplan Tokhang.
Senior Insp. Alejandro Lopez of Police Station 6 said that three teams composed of 20 men from their station still pushed through with the door-to-door campaign.
“Even if the flood affected us that time, we implemented Oplan Tokhang to show the people that we were serious in our campaign,” he said in Cebuano.
In an interview with Sun.Star Cebu, City Director Senior Supt. Benjamin Santos said they are open to the possibility of organizing an event that will serve as a diversion for users and pushers.
“All of the possible interventions must be coordinated with the barangays but the police can conduct a sports-related activity for them,” Santos said.
Among those who surrendered in Mandaue City was Jona Sepada, 38. She said she resumed selling shabu after her landlord padlocked her house because she had failed to pay the rent.
Despite poverty, Sepada said she decided to quit selling illegal drugs and heeded the Mandaue City Police Office’s call to surrender.
Sepada of Barangay Subangdaku was one of the 131 drug pushers and users in Mandaue who promised before City officials and other agencies that she will stop getting involved in prohibited drugs.
Supt. Jonathan Abella, deputy city director for administration of the Mandaue City Police Office, presented the persons who surrendered to Rep. Jonas Cortes (Cebu, 6th district) and Mandaue Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna at the Mandaue City Sports and Cultural Complex Monday morning.
Abella said the 131 drug personalities were those listed before the program started. It did not include yet those who arrived while the program was ongoing.
“Naay mga (Among those who surrendered were) wanted drug personalities in the station level and headquarters. Ang uban wa pa ni warrant (Most of them do not yet have an arrest warrant),” he said.
Since the persons who surrendered were allowed to go home, Abella said they will continue to monitor them.
Sepada said she decided to surrender because she feared for her safety and that of her family.
“Kahadlok mani gud kay naa na lang makita sa agianan nga nangamatay (I fear for my safety because recently several drug personalities were found dead on the streets),” she said.
Sepada was 14 years old when she started selling drugs. She stopped the illegal activity when she got married in February 2014.
She hopes that the City Government can provide mothers with livelihood. With Angiela Conte and Camille Pateres, USJ-R Interns