TO make sure that those who turned themselves in will not return to their old ways, the Cebu City Government, through the Cebu City Office for Substance Abuse and Prevention (COSAP), will coordinate with the barangays in the city to conduct a follow-up Tokhang (Toktok Hangyo).
COSAP head Dr. Alice Utlang also plans to tap churches to help strengthen the enforcement of holistic rehabilitation and recovery.
The lack of rehabilitation centers for drug users and pushers who surrendered to the program is forcing local government and police officials to work with different sectors to keep the surrenderees off illegal drugs.
From July 1 to 31, a total of 2,971 have already surrendered to the program in Cebu City alone.
Another of 1,390 surrendered in Lapu-Lapu while 1,467 turned themselves in in Mandaue from July 1 to 28.
“This would mean that the Tokhang could not fully work on its own. The statistics would imply that it’s not just the role of the local government and the police, but a holistic effort from all sectors of the community is equally important,” Dr. Utlang told Sun.Star Cebu.
The plan is a response to their recent findings that only 18 out of the 102 enrolled in the City’s We Care program in Barangays Mabolo, Buhisan and Sambag II continue to participate in the required intervention.
With this development, she said they’re tapping the barangays to do a follow-up Tokhang to remind those who are inactive of the importance of the interventions provided in the We Care program.
If the surrenderee will not heed the village deputy for Tokhang, the police will take over the matter.
As for the 18 who have committed to attend the interventions, they can either choose to avail themselves of a job placement or a slot in a vocational training of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
Utlang, however, clarified that they would have to complete the three-month program for out-patient clients without absences and make sure that their respective performance would render positive results.
“For those who want to land a job, we can recommend them to Mayor (Tomas Osmeña) because he also has an employment program for those who have rectified their actions. But of course, we have to examine that well because that might be the excuse of others, ‘we’ll use drugs because the government will give jobs’,” she said.
Despite having 18 active intervention attendees, she said that based on COSAP’s assessment, out of the 102 enrollees, 100 of the out-patient clients were recommended to be admitted to rehabilitation centers.
Although the City has yet to have its own rehab center, a private institution has pledged to accommodate five in-house patients admitted by COSAP.
Most of them are being paid for by their families as the admission only costs P6,000.
The churches, on the other hand, could help provide the venue for interventions as the We Care program will be expanded to Barangays Carreta, Tejero and Kamagayan, said Utlang.
The churches could also do regular visitations to double the efforts on the recovery of out-patient clients. She added that the spiritual aspect of the interventions would be better explained with the church’s participation.
“Most importantly, the churches can help in solidifying the family as this is the foundation of society. Let’s think of the next generation, the future of the children of drug dependents” Utlang said.
In Lapu-Lapu, Police Senior Supt. Rommel Cabagnot, the new Lapu-Lapu Police Office director, said one of the problems that he saw is the lack of rehabilitation centers for the surrenderees.
“We do not have the capability to send surrenderees to the drug rehabilitation centers. For now, the Lapu-Lapu City has a plan to provide them with jobs,” he said.
The City Government has requested the Department of Health for assistance so Lapu-Lapu can build a rehabilitation center on a City-owned lot.
On the part of the police, they have several activities intended for the drug pushers and users so they will no longer be involved in illegal drug activities.
Cabagnot said they will involve the surrenderees in community service and Zumba exercise.
“This is what we are going to do while the rehab center is not yet available because if you will not provide them with activities, they will go back to their illegal activities,” he said.
In an interview, Lapu-Lapu Mayor Paz Radaza said the City Social Welfare and Development Office has been profiling the surrenderees to determine the appropriate livelihood that will be provided to them.
The City Government created a special committee to focus on the rehabilitation of the surrenderees and to provide them with job opportunities.
Radaza, however, was dismayed when he learned that only a few surrenderees submitted themselves to the social
welfare office for profiling.
“If they are not sincere when they surrendered, well we are serious about this... If they go back to their old ways, they should leave Lapu-Lapu. They don’t have a place here,” she said.
Meanwhile, Cabagnot said he is glad that the President is encouraging the concerned government offices to hasten the case proceedings related to illegal drugs.
He said it is not easy for police officials to travel to the areas where the drug cases are pending and being heard since they use their personal money for the trip.
In Mandaue, Senior Insp. Romulo Genandoy, officer-in-charge of the Police Community Relations, also saw the need to have a rehabilitation center.
“There are surrenderees who really need rehabilitation, that is why we need a rehab center,” he said.
Like Cebu City, the Mandaue City Police Office will also tap TESDA to train the surrenderees so they can land jobs.
In the meantime, surrenderees will have to join the weekly Bible study and Zumba dance to keep them preoccupied.