A TOP official of the Dangerous Drugs Board commended Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada for initiating an innovative community-based treatment program, saying it is more important to provide “hope and help” to thousands of surrendering drug dependents.
DDB secretary Benjamin Reyes said Manila’s “Sagip Buhay, Sagip Pangarap” rehabilitation program is a good model for other localities to emulate in helping drug dependents and to complement President Rodrigo Duterte’s all-out war against drugs.
“I congratulate the City of Manila for such a wonderful program and I’m hoping they continue the good work. It is more important to provide hope and help to drug dependents who surrendered,” Reyes said during the training-seminar for the volunteers of Initiatives for Life and Action for Women, the non-government organization implementing the “Sagip Buhay, Sagip Pangarap” program in Manila.
Estrada said he thought of the program to assist drug dependents who are willing to change their ways and start anew.
“Drug dependents are also victims. They don’t deserve condemnation. All they need is another chance, and we at the city government are here to help them,” Estrada said.
Under the Sagip Buhay program, surrendering drug users will undergo initial screening by ILAW volunteers in every barangay; those to be considered “treatable” cases of drug abuse will undergo medical and psycho-social treatment by a team of medical professionals such as psychologists and psychiatrists; the severe cases will be endorsed to government rehabilitation centers such as the one in Bicutan.
To help them start new lives, the beneficiaries will also be given jobs commensurate to their educational background or seed capital for them to open their own business ventures, ILAW program director Jerika Ejercito, Estrada’s daughter, said.
In his message, Reyes praised Manila for coming up with the treatment program while other LGUs’ anti-drug campaigns are focused on arresting and prosecuting drug dependents.
“Unfortunately during the past administrations, nalimutan po ang community interventions as far as anti-drug abuse is concerned. Wala, nag-focus po tayo sa in-patient treatment and rehabilitation,” the DDB chief pointed out.
“So I was surprised that in Manila, there is a private organization like ILAW that leads the implementation of this program unlike in other cities and municipalities,” he added.
Reyes called on local officials to strengthen their respective community-based intervention programs for drug dependents just like what the city government of Manila is currently doing.