Over 80 drug dependents from Northern Manila have found the motivation to start a new life, defying the idea that those who have their names on their barangays’ watchlist either end up in jail or get killed when they retaliate against the police in anti-drug operations.
Manuel Abelgas, a 55-year old worker for his own village hall, is still trying to live with after being included in Barangay North Bay Boulevard South’s list.
In an interview with the Inquirer, he revealed, “I got included after I tested positive during one of the barangay’s drug tests.” He admitted that he does use “shabu” occasionally with friends. “It’s both embarrassing and terrifying, knowing all the horror stories [about the drug war].”
Abelgas is one of the 81 drug dependents who trooped to the old Caloocan City Hall last April 27 for a shot at getting their names off the list.
They are the first batch of ‘reformers’ under the Northern Police District’s (NPD) newly launched “Kanlungan ng Pagbabago” – a rehabilitation program to help small-time drug dependents to turn away from the vice.
Under the program, the former narcos will undergo medical, psychological and counseling sessions from the Department of Health, and even livelihood and skills training from the Department of Education and Technical Education Services and Development Authority.
According to Chief Supt. Amando Clifton Empiso, NPD director, the program offers a more lasting promise: their removal from their lists so they can combat the drug stigma aside from healing and recovery.
“Our commitment to the war on drugs isn’t just solely in the operational implementation of the [Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act]. It’s to manifest also our vision to help rehabilitate drug dependents into becoming productive members of society again,” said Empiso.
The “Kanlungan ng Pagbabago” also seeks to augment the dearth of resources for the more than 52,000 drug surrenderees from across the Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) over which the NPD has jurisdiction, Empiso said.
Each LGU has its own rehabilitation program. Most of them are done in coordination with and under the auspices of their own parish churches.
According to Silo, they are hoping to establish more reformation centers through the year to better reach out to the thousands needing rehabilitation.