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Bishop Tobias: We Are Our Brother’s Keeper

People from all sectors of the City of Caloocan converged on September 17, 2016 at the Sto. Nino De Congreso Parish along Congressional Road, Bagumbong to put together a comprehensive Community-Based Rehabilitation Program (CBRP) that would complement the Government’s nationwide war against illegal drugs. 

Entitled “Summit Meeting on Church Response to the War on Drugs,” the event started off with a quick overview on illegal drugs in the city given by PSupt. Reydante Ariza. The statistics he revealed are quite grim with the total 188 barangays already affected by drugs in different degrees of use and dependence.

It should be a concerted effort for all of us,” he said, noting that despite the significant number of those who heeded the call for voluntary surrender, there is still so much to be done due to some relapses among the surrenderers, and the lackadaisical attitude of some barangay officials.

Caloocan City’s Human Resources Management Office Officer-In-Charge Atty. Sikini Labastilla relayed the same sentiment, adding, “It takes a village to rehabilitate a drug dependent.” He informed the 222 audience present that according to the latest statistics of the Philippine National Police (PNP), there are only 50 rehabilitation centers all over the Country as against 3.7-million drug users.

This data led to the reorganization of the City’s Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CADAC), where he was assigned as director, to bolster their campaign against drug addiction and address the plight of those who have surrendered.

PSupt. Reydante Ariza during the Sept 17, 2016 Summit Meeting On Church’s Response To War On Drugs at the Sto. Nino De Congreso Parish, Bagumbong, C.C.

First on our agenda is the building of a new drug rehabilitation center in the northern part of the city,” he said. “Construction has started but completion will not be until September next year, that is why we are setting up outpatient rehabilitation centers because some of those who have surrendered have nowhere to go.”

Atty. Labastilla added that rehabilitation sessions have been scheduled for a duration of 12 weeks to three months. After their surrender, the drug dependent undergoes screening, detoxification and other activities like Bible and book-sharing as well as training with the Technical Education & Skills Development Authority (TESDA). He concluded, The goal is after three months, they will become totally different persons.”

Meanwhile, the “lack of access to a proper rehabilitation program after surrendering to the Police” motivated Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Rev. Fr. Luciano Felloni and Barangay 174 Chairman Enrique Bunag to forge a partnership between the Church and the barangay to come up with a Community Based Rehabilitation Program (CBRP).

Alam po natin na kung walang rehabilitasyon, walang pagbabago,” Fr. Felloni added. Today their CBRP is underway. They have successfully held a “Surrendering Day” last September 1, 2016 and those who surrendered are now undergoing rehabilitation. The areas of focus were the result of discussions and brainstorming with the PPC and working through UBAS (Ugnayan ng Barangay At Simbahan).

Rev. Fr. Luciano Felloni giving his talk on the Community Based Drug Rehabilitation Program during the Summit 

The single most effective and important factor for change is connection with God as shown in many case studies regarding drug dependents,” revealed Fr. Felloni. “Yun po ang nagbigay ng lakas sa kanila para magbago.

The program, Fr. Felloni said, is being undertaken based on three guiding principles, “full support to the government’s campaign against drugs; commitment to protect life; and proactive participation in the solution.”

Fr. Antonio E. Labiao, Jr., the Diocese’s Vicar General for Pastoral Affairs, admitted that there is no blueprint at the moment that would address the country’s phenomenal drug problem. He, however, acknowledged what Fr. Felloni has started.

We are still experimenting and, for many of us, are in the process of organizing,” he added. “Hopefully after this summit, we will be able to meet and arrive at a common ground to help our drug dependents and integrate them back to society.”

Rev. Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr. giving a run-down of the Diocesan Community Based Drug Rehabilitation Program’s Features and Procedures

The Diocesan CBRP, called AKAP (Abot-Kamay Alang-Alang sa Pagbabago), will be a joint collaboration of the Diocese with the city government, the PNP, the local government units (LGUs), the Department of Health (DOH), DILG and other civic organizations.

After listening to all the challenging revelations and promising programs, Bishop Antonio R. Tobias said that they all point to one thing, “We are our brother’s keeper.”

Ngayon nagsanib tayo para isabuhay ang ginawa ni Hesus, magpagaling ng mga may sakit, magpatawad at magbigay proteksiyon. We are keepers of the drug dependents in our community,” he reiterated.

Bishop Tobias likewise lauded the programs presented saying there are now templates that we can follow to make the diocesan CBRP a success.

On hand to give words of encouragement were Mayor Oscar Malapitan, Vice Mayor Macario Asistio, and Assistant DILG Secretary Roosque E. P. Calacat. They all lauded the efforts of the Diocese to connect with all sectors to ensure the success of this much-needed program. (~Lulu Nario)

The Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, D.D. during the Summit last Sept 17, 2016

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