Drug pushers to rebuild lives in Balay Silangan
posted 3-Sep-2018  ·  
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By the end of the year, the province of Catanduanes will have its own Balay Silangan which will serve as reformation centers for drug pushers who have availed of the plea bargaining agreement.

Last Thursday (Aug. 23), Governor Joseph Cua led municipal mayors as representatives of the local Anti-Drug Abuse Councils in signing twin memoranda of agreement as stakeholders in the establishment of Balay Silangan and its program for drug offenders, with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), the Department of Justice’s Probation and Parole Administration, Department of Health Malinao Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DOG-MTRC) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as the other parties.

Under the twin agreements, the province’s successful Community-Based Treatment and Rehabilitation Program (CBTRP) will be the Balay Silangan’s Point of Instruction. Aside from the CBTRP, the Cua administration has likewise an agreement with the Malinao center for the treatment of moderate drug users from Catanduanes.

Under Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regulation No. 2, series of 2018, LGUs are charged with, among others, the establishment and operation of the Balay Silangan, provide human resources as well as a facility that will include a classroom, library, toilet, mess area, shower area, sleeping quarters and sports or recreation area.

The program of instruction for the center’s beneficiaries include Knowledge of Illegal Drugs, Ill Effects of Illegal Drugs, Awareness on RA 9165, Counselling/Consultative Meetings, Moral Recovery Activities, Personal and Life Skills, Community Service, Family Visitation, and Livelihood or Employment  Education.

The Cua administration has reportedly set aside an initial P5 million for the renovation of the jail facility. The operation of the Balay Silangan will be among the basis for the proposed “Sagisag ng Tagumpay Laban sa Droga Award” for cities and municipalities.

On the other hand, municipal LGUs will provide budgetary support, including subsistence allowance of drug personalities, and coordinate with national angencies for the provision of educational, livelihood, spiritual and other programs.

The PNP will assign six security personnel on 24-hour rotation to the Balay Silangan, with the BJMP Virac and San Andres district jails to contribute one personnel each to man the operation of Balay while the other parties will monitor and supervise the implementation of the program. The Parole and Probation office will provide technical assistance, including training.

During the program launching and multi-partite MOA signing at the Catanduanes Convention Center, PDEA acting regional director Christian Frivaldo lauded the province’s local officials led by Gov. Cua for being very supportive of the anti-illegal drugs campaign through the CBTRP, something which he said should be emulated by other provinces.

He opined that based on the pace of implementation of the program, Catanduanes would be the first to be declared drug-free in Bicol as it is way ahead of Sorsogon.

The governor stated that the launching is proof of the province’s fierce commitment to the campaign, having launched its rehab program as early as July 2016.

“Despite political propaganda, I have not faltered in leading the war on drugs,” stressed Cua, who was recently cleared by the Ombudsman in connection with the discovery of the shabu laboratory in Virac two years ago.

On the other hand, PNP acting regional director Chief Superintendent Arnel Escobal said cooperation and unity, despite differences in reaching the goal, is the key to success in the anti-drug campaign.

“A lot needs to be done,” he noted, adding that going after users and peddlers is just the first step.

The PDEA is currently seeking the support of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the approval and implementation of the proposal of building reformation centers in every barangay. If approved, the establishment of these centers will be mandatory for all local government units (LGUs) to implement.

It was clarified, however, that since not all drug offenders will be accommodated at Balay Silangan, one facility would be enough for Catanduanes and its 11 towns.

Under Republic Act 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, all LGUs are mandated to appropriate a substantial portion of their annual budgets to assist in or enhance the enforcement of such law, giving priority to preventive or educational programs and the rehabilitation or treatment of drug dependents.

Failure to allocate funds shall be a ground for disapproval of the LGUs’ annual budget on review and for possible administrative case of dereliction of duty pursuant to Section 60 of the Local Government Code and DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) 2015-63.

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