Caloocan, Quezon City show anti-illegal drugs program should be about healing, not killing

Conclusion

Drug-free Quezon City

THE Quezon City Anti-Drug Abuse Advisory Council (QCADAAC) manages the city’s drug-rehabilitation program called “Drug-Free Quezon City,” headed by Vice Mayor Josefina G. Belmonte.

According to the Community-based Drug Rehabilitation Alliance (CBDRA), QCADAAC’s drug rehabilitation program has five steps.

These are the 1) implementation of tokhang/voluntary surrender/law enforcement, which means the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) would closely coordinate with the QCADAAC; 2) health screening, wherein the QCADAAC used the integrated profiling system; 3) community-based treatment using 12-steps with well-resourced persons; 4) creating and sustaining partnerships through the Masa-Masid framework; and 5) monitoring and evaluation/expansion, which means an uneven implementation.

According to Councilor Gian Carlo G. Sotto, the Drug-Free Quezon City was guided by three mission statements, which are preventing drug abuse through education and advocacy; treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependents; and established linkage to its stakeholders like law enforcers, judiciary, academe, health sector, civic-society organizations, policy-makers, national government agencies and the community in general.

QCADAAC also gave jobs to the rehabilitated individuals so that they will surely finally end drug addiction for life.

Bautista: Human-rights issue

WHEN asked about CBDRA’s Lingap Circle Awards to the Drug-Free Quezon City, Mayor Herbert M. Bautista told this journalist via SMS that his administration was “thankful for the recognition. We thank the vice mayor for her leadership in [the drug rehabilitation] effort.”

Bautista admitted that drug rehabilitation is a very important concern because, according to him, “[r]ehabilitation is a function of human rights.”

“It gives opportunity for persons who are willing to positively contribute to [the] society after the process of rehabilitation.”

Quezon City Police District Director, Chief Supt. Guillermo Lorenzo M. Eleazar, who has made an important job in the success of QCADAAC’s anti-illegal-drugs program, said in a text message that “since my assumption as district director of the QCPD [in July 2016], we have intensified our drug war in consonance with President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s desire to free the country from the menace of illegal drugs. We are very thankful that on the process of implementing [Duterte’s] anti-illegal-drug program, the Quezon City government and barangay officials are always behind us to support.”

Eleazar further explained to the BusinessMirror that “with the QCADAAC…, [the QCPD] had the opportunity to reform the drug dependents, hence, our drug war did not only focus on arresting drug suspects, but we also give chances to those who surrender and be reformed as productive members of [the] society through the rehabilitation program being facilitated by [the] QCADAAC.”

LGU, barangay support is very important

ELEAZAR explained that “the law enforcers’ fight against illegal drugs, [particularly] QCPD, [would] not be successful without the support of the barangay and the local government [of Quezon City], especially of QCADAAC. We [are] always thankful to them because illegal-drugs menace is a national issue, each and every citizen must be involved in addressing this problem.”

Health issue

Dr. Frederick Edward T. Fabella, psychology professor and research director from the Mary the Queen College in Quezon City, explained to this writer that the drug abuse is a “health issue [because] psychoactive drugs can be stimulants, [meaning it] makes you more alert and agitated.”

“Depressants make you slower and groggy, [while] hallucinogenic makes you experience hallucinations,” Fabella pointed out.

He said marijuana is a hallucinogen, while methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, is a stimulant.

Fabella further elaborated that “in most psychoactive drugs, the effect is loss of inhibition. Prolonged use of any psychoactive drugs may damage nerve cells and change one’s personality permanently.”

In other words, Fabella is one with other experts who consistently assert that the drug abuse, drug addiction, or even those people who use drugs once in a while for fun, is unquestionably a health issue.

Social cost of drug addiction

WHEN asked what should be the most important thing that the drug-rehabilitation advocates should do or teach on the drug abusers during the six-month drug-rehabilitation period, Fabella explained that “the patients should realize not only the harmful effects on themselves but also the social cost of addiction. Family, loved ones and friends also pay a price. The people around them are forced to tolerate their self-destructive behavior.”

Fabella emphasized that the “families have to deal with unemployed [drug]-addict members who sometimes steal from them in order to buy drugs. [This is] the danger of having a disturbed addict in their homes and what the addict may do to them.”

He extremely argued that all these things should be highlighted by drug-rehabilitation advocates as the psychologist believed its importance in regaining the lives and health of the drug abusers. Fabella asserted that the drug-rehabilitation workers should inculcate in the minds of drug users and abusers the issue of “how addiction destroys the lives of people around the addict.”

Recognition of leadership, exemplary service

CATHY CADAY, Seaoil Foundation Inc. (SFI), program officer, told the BusinessMirror in a phone interview that the CBDRA’s Lingap Circle Awards that was given to Caloocan City and Quezon City and to three other LGUs and one non-governmental organization were “in recognition of their bringing leadership and exemplary service as a champion of community-based [drug] rehabilitation in the Philippines.”

Caday said their drive to “save the lives of the illegal-drug users” through various approaches and steps have proven that drug rehabilitation is “not impossible.”

CBDRA was formed on August 23, 2017, jointly by the University of the Philippines-Manila College of Health, Rehabilitation Alternative Programs and Intervention for the Prevention of Illegal Drug Dependency (Rapid) Response Consortium, and the SFI.

CBDRA asserted that communities have “a critical role in helping them get back on their feet.”

Thus, it implemented the lingap form of “protective and compassionate care from the community.” CBDRA came up with “Lingap circle [that is based on] a Filipino culture and value-based health promotion strategy for Community-Based Drug Treatment and Prevention Programs” that has the essence of “protective and compassionate care.”

Honor LGU, NGO efforts on drug addicts

CBDRA came up with the awards because it “wanted to honor [the] efforts [that the LGUs and NGOs] exerted to help the drug surrenderees [end their dependency on illegal drugs],” Cecile Noble, secretary-general of Rapid Response Consortium, told the BusinessMirror.

CBDRA has five criteria for the awards: 1) standards set by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, such as the (a) balanced, (b) people-centered, (c) evidence-based and human rights-based antidrug campaign; 2) the antidrug strategy that is community-based drug-rehabilitation treatment; 3) saving lives and harm reduction concepts; 4) concept about protective and compassionate care; and the 5) presence of style of leadership that bridges the implementers of the drug rehabilitation that bridges all the stakeholders in the community.

 

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Nelson S. Badilla started writing for various publications in November 1994 and stopped in December 2006. Then, he started teaching in various universities from 2007 to 2016. He returned to media profession in November 2014 until he joined in the Business Mirror last February this year. Badilla finished Doctor of Education, Major in Educational Management, program from the University of Rizal System (2015). He obtained his Master of Public Administration from the University of the Philippines - National College of Public Administration and Governance (2007). He first took up his bachelor's degree, AB Political Science, from the Lyceum of the Philippines and but finished it at the Philippine Christian University in Manila (2005). While writing stories for this paper, Dr. Badilla is set to teach Public Administration, Journalism, and Basic Economic courses starting this year.