Thousands of drug reformists attend symposium in Bulacan

CITY OF MALOLOS—At least 4,300 drug reformists attended on Wednesday a symposium on illegal drugs in the Bulacan Capitol Gymnasium in this city.

The symposium, dubbed “Kampanya para sa Pagsugpo sa Ipinagbabawal na Gamot”, was sponsored by the provincial government of Bulacan, Provincial Peace and Order Council, and the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council.

Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado; Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando; Bulacan Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Romeo Caramat Jr.; Agnes Alipio, senior health program officer of the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Luzon; Rowena Tolentino and Rhealyn Manansala  of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda)-Bulacan; Department of the Interior and Local Government Director in Bulacan Darwin David; League of Municipalities of the Philippines Bulacan Chapter President Ambrosio Cruz Jr.; Provincial Administrator Eugenio Payongayong; and other local officials attended the symposium.

Caramat said police operatives already visited 31,360 houses in the whole province from July 1, 2016, to March 26, 2017. They also revisited 1,501 houses with 37,369 surrenderees, of whom 36,357 are users and 1,012 are pushers. The figures represented 1.13 percent of the total population. He said the city of Malolos had the most number of surrenderees, while the city of San Jose del Monte had the least.

Caramat said killing is a misconception in the war against illegal drugs. He said added that, with the huge number of reformists, the jails in the province suffer from overcrowding. He said Aaron Aquino, PNP director in Central Luzon, wants to come up with Bahay Pagbabago reformation centers in the 21 municipalities and three cities in the province of Bulacan with the help of every local chief executive and chief of police. He added there are 25 Bahay Pagbabago in the province, including the one inside the provincial headquarters.

Caramat said there were 1,520 graduates of Bahay Pagbabago, with 66 drug reformists currently enrolled in the reformation program. Reformists under the program are entitled to free food, water and electricity.

He added every reformist is prohibited from smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages and using gadgets while undergoing the reformation program.

Caramat said all reformists conduct a morning exercise; undergo moral-recovery sessions and training under Tesda on livelihood programs, such as welding and massage-therapy courses; basket, door mat and soap-making courses; and  receive livelihood projects, such as fishball and lugaw food carts. He said they also benefit from free medical checkup conducted by the DOH.

Caramat  said 420, or 28 percent, of the 1,520 graduates from the Bahay Pagbabago program are employed. He added some local government units provided scholarship for family members of reformists to be granted next school year.

Alipio said the phases of addiction includes abstinence, experimentation, recreational, occasional and habitation, among others. She said the signs of drug abuse are change in clothing and appearance, new peers, mood swings, change in working or schooling attitude or habit, and strong craving for prohibited drugs. She said addictive substances include stimulants, such as shabu, to feel hyperactive;  depressants, such as heroine and alcohol, among others.






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