By Divina Suson
ILIGAN CITY–The Iligan City government and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) opened on Tuesday a “Balay Silangan” center inside the Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DTRC) at Barangay Abuno here.
Dr. Gino Meteoro, supervisor of the Community-Based Drug Rehabilitation Program (CBDRP) here, said the facility will accommodate 24 to 40 drug surrenderers who are on the anti-drugs watchlist of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the PDEA.
PDEA-10 (Northern Mindanao) Director Wilkins Villanueva said the Balay Silangan facility is meant for drug surrenderers “who wanted to change their lives and turn their backs from illegal drug activities.”
Villanueva said before Balay Silangan was conceptualized, watch-listed drug pushers did not have an option to undergo holistic rehabilitation.
Villanueva said the Balay Silangan emphasizes community involvement in “reforming drug personalities to become self-sufficient and law-abiding citizens.”
“A barangay cannot be cleared if there is still existing presence of drug pushers in the area,” he added.
After a three-month rehabilitation, the drug surrenderers receive certificate of completion and their names removed from the PNP and PDEA anti-drugs watchlist, he said.
Mayor Celso Regencia assured the surrenderers of the local government’s support.
The mayor said each family of the rehab participants will receive a sack of rice and other food items each month for two months.
Regencia said the barangay where the surrenderer resides will also provide the same provisions in the third month of their rehabilitation.
Regencia also called on barangay officials who are on the government’s anti-drug watchlist to enroll in Balay Silangan “and not to be ashamed of availing the program.”
City engineer Leonor Actub said civil works of the 147-square meter facility will start in November and will be finished in 70 working days.
Lito (not his real name), one of 24 surrenderers who is on the first batch of the program, was arrested in May 2018 but was released a month after availing of the plea-bargaining agreement in court.
Lito said he decided to join the Balay Silangan rehabilitation program because wanted his name stricken off the government’s anti-drug watchlist.
“I don’t want my son to suffer in the future,” he said, referring to his 22-year-old son–his only child–who is on his second year in his Bachelor of Science in Criminology course.
“I don’t want to have a negative impact on my son’s dream of becoming a policeman someday,” he said. (PNA)