The City Government of Valenzuela will send a total of 199 drug dependents to a locally funded six-month long therapy program at the Central Luzon Drug Rehabilitation Center in Magalang, Pampanga, making the City the first local government unit in the country to sponsor drug dependents of this magnitude for rehabilitation.
Mayor REX Gatchalian claimed the responsibility for the lives of the Tokhang surrenderees who were ordered by the Regional Trial Court to undergo rehabilitation due to severe drug addiction.
Last August 5, the City Government of Valenzuela launched its comprehensive anti-drug support program dubbed as “VC Cares Plus” which include, among other integrated strategies, an LGU-funded assessment, community based and center-based rehabilitation, and reintegration program for drug dependents. The program set Valenzuela City several steps forward in the implementation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Memorandum Circular No. 2016-116, or the Masa Masid Program which was signed in September 2.
The local government had its four doctors accredited by the Department of Health (DOH) as experts on assessment of level of addiction. After their evaluation of the 1000 out of 2,800 surrenderees in Valenzuela, they were categorized based on dependency, namely: occasional users, chronic abusers and those with mental condition.
On October 3, Valenzuela City signed the memorandum of agreement with the Sagip BIE Foundation which manages the Central Luzon Drug Rehabilitation Center for the reservation of 200 beds in the institution for Valenzuelano patients. A few days ago, the doctors finished assessing and completed the 199 chronic users for referral.
Pursuant to Section 54 of RA 9165 of the Dangerous Drug Board, a drug dependent may apply to the Dangerous Drug Board for treatment and rehabilitation of the drug dependency. Upon such application, the Board shall bring forth the matter to the Court which shall order that the applicant be examined. If the examination by a DOH-accredited physician resulted in the issuance of a certification that the applicant is a drug dependent, he or she shall be ordered by the Court to undergo treatment and rehabilitation in a recognized Center for a period of not less than six months.
The rehabilitation of each Valenzuelano patient will cost PhP 6,500 per month or Php 39,000.00 for the entire treatment period. Alongside the rehabilitation sponsorship, families of bread-winner rehab patients shall be taken care of by the local government to make them worry-free while they are away. The City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) shall also set up a held desk to accommodate their families who might have further concerns about them in the future.
Upon their return to their respective communities after the rehabilitation, they will report to the community based rehabilitation units which are now also being set up in each barangay of the city. They shall also be provided with livelihood or job placement support through the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) so that they can fully transform themselves as renewed and productive constituents of the city. Those who want to return to school shall be availed with the education programs of the city, such as, the Alternative Learning System (ALS) or scholarship program.
After the briefing held at the City Hall today, the Valenzuela City PNP and the Valenzuela Anti-Drug Abuse Council (VADAC) personnel transported the initial 50 patients towards what they can call their their first step towards a better life ahead. The rest will follow in the coming days. As well as, those who will be assessed as chronic abusers out of the remaining 1,800 surrenderees.