Pubdate: Tue, 16 Aug 2016
Source: Cebu Daily News  (Philippines)
Column: Apalisok
Copyright: 2016sCebu Daily News
Author: Malou Guanzon


We can rant all day about how dirty and bloody the current war on 
drugs has become, but we cannot deny the fact that only President 
Rodrigo Duterte has shown utmost resolve and political will to do 
battle with drug syndicates.

The illegal drug trade is just one of the tentacles of the 
underworld. According to law enforcement experts, revenues accrued 
from drug trafficking fund the criminal colony that is illegal 
gambling, human trafficking, white slavery, gunrunning, cybercrime 
and terrorism, not to mention sustaining the network of government 
officials who aid the illegal structure.

I'm not saying it is okay for President Duterte and the Philippine 
National Police to take shortcuts because that is a formula for abuse 
of power, but we can't just close our eyes on the extrajudicial 
killings wherein most of the victims come from the fringes of 
society. These developments have become a grave cause for concern 
even by those who want this administration to succeed.

There is a perception the administration adopts a double standard in 
dealing with drug traffickers because of the more than 500 killed in 
alleged shootouts with law enforcers, maybe less than five (5) 
percent are in the PNP's order of battle. The rest are in the lowest 
rung of the illegal trade, who may have been silenced by drug 
syndicates and their protectors in the police agency. In fact, the 
death of the notorious Jeffrey "Jaguar" Diaz in the hands of Cebu 
police intelligence agents, who were subsequently given "hardship" 
assignments in Muslim rebel-infested areas has boosted this 
perception. Meanwhile, important people who have been "named and 
shamed" are given a chance to clear their names. All told, we have a 
monumental problem and I pray that President Digong finds a more 
humane solution in ridding our society of the drug cancer.

In the meantime, the gargantuan task of rehabilitating 600,000 
surrenderees out of 3 to 4 million drug dependents all over the 
country is not the government's alone. We all have a responsibility 
and we ought to rally behind this by contributing our time, talents 
and resources. Some corporations can even realign or redesign their 
corporate social responsibility (CSR) directions to this gargantuan challenge.

I'm happy to note that the Cebu Archdiocese has rolled out a 
community-based recovery program in collaboration with a Catholic 
covenanted community and a non-government organization based in Ozamis City.

The 10-day program opened last Sunday in Yati, Liloan town in 
northern Cebu and I'm privileged to hear the backstory of the 
recovery course from the main coordinator, my friend and tireless 
supporter of the Catholic Church, Fe Barino. Fe, together with 
husband Lito, leads the Love of God charismatic community.

When hundreds of drug dependents turned themselves in to Liloan 
authorities, Fe was very perturbed because there have been talks that 
some employees in the family-owned Duros Development Corporation 
(DDC) are hooked on drugs. I think the prospect of company workers or 
even family members ending in grisly vigilante-style killings has 
pressured Fe no end. She then decided to discuss the matter with Fr. 
Monico Catubig and thereafter touched base with Rene Francisco, a son 
of a former coworker in Atlas Mining Corporation in Toledo City.

Mr. Francisco is behind IT WORKS!, a nonstock, non-profit 
organization which has designed a program that caters to drug and/or 
alcohol dependents through a program widely used by Alcoholics 
Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. The group is accredited with the 
Dangerous Drugs Board and the Department of Health since 2002.

With the aid of Fr. Catubig and Mr. Francisco, Fe designed a program 
brief and submitted it to Archbishop Jose S. Palma last August 11. 
The Cebu prelate subsequently approved the Archdiocesan intervention 
for drug dependents without delay.

The program launch last week was preceded by a drug test among DDC 
employees and true enough, some 34 company workers tested positive 
for shabu. Instead of kicking them out of the company or hauling them 
off to the nearest police station, Fe encouraged them to submit to 
the 10-day live out seminar workshop that consists of lectures, 
sharing, testimonies, prayers, and workshops. While under the 
program, DDC workers were given allowances of P200 per day and one 
kilo of rice to help their families.

The spiritual dimension is under the guidance of Fr. Monico Catubig 
who opens each day with a Eucharistic celebration. Members of the LOG 
alternately hold a daily vigil before the Blessed Sacrament in the 
community chapel. The course is capped by the participants doing an 
inventory of their individual skills needed for livelihood programs.

I have been invited to attend the initial program last Sunday but 
begged off owing to a previous commitment. I'm making a mental note 
to attend a full one-day activity to get a "feel" of the program that 
I think embodies our aspirations for a humane approach to the scourge 
of illegal drugs.

In an online interview, I asked Fe how she intends to make the 
program sustainable because mounting it for ten days straight can be 
very expensive. A complete program (open to 50-70 participants) comes 
with an assessment of P5k per participant but the organizers 
initially tapped their own resources and donations from charitable 
individuals and organizations. I understand Fe is open to conduct the 
program outside of the LOG community with the help of generous benefactors.

In the drug trafficking map, Cebu is a major artery because this is 
where drugs are brought in from Hong Kong and distributed to many 
parts of the country. I have been commenting on this issue since the 
90s and God knows how many lives have been destroyed, families 
wrecked and government agencies contaminated by the filth of the evil trade.

Now that the problem is out in the open, it is but fitting the 
faithful especially in Cebu supports a program that enables drug 
dependents to confront their demons and return to the loving embrace 
of God, their families and the community.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom