By Chito A. Chavez
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has forged an agreement with some agencies, including a private foundation that would finance the construction of a drug rehabilitation center in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
With the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA), a P700-million drug rehabilitation center will soon rise that will help former drug dependents reintegrate into the community and become productive members of the society.
The signatories included Secretary of the Cabinet Leoncio B. Evasco, Jr., Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial and DILG Undersecretary John R. Castriciones, while the Friends of the Philippines Foundation (FPF) was represented by Jose Kho.
Also present during ceremonial signing were Assistant Secretary Aurora Ignacio from the Office of the President, Assistant Secretary Epimaco V. Densing III for the DILG, Kitson Kho of Kinming (Xiamen) Real Estate Co. Ltd. and Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, who is a native of Bukidnon.
In a statement, DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno lauded the FPF and the City Government of Malaybalay for being effective ‘partners for change’ by financing the construction of a drug rehabilitation center in Bukidnon, and for donating a parcel of land for the rehab facility, respectively.
“I have repeatedly said that the fight against illegal drugs is not the government’s alone. This is our fight as much as it is yours. I therefore appreciate the efforts of groups like the FPF and the Malaybalay City Government for going the extra mile to help solve the country’s drug woes,” said Sueno.
The soon-to-be built rehabilitation center will provide services such as livelihood programs, capability building activities and skills training for the recovering drug dependents.
Aside from this, the facility will also include a recreational center for the drug users as well as a training center for medical practitioners, health workers and volunteers of the taskforce DATRC.
Under the MOA, the FPF will bear all the costs relating to the design and construction of the Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DATRC) in Bukidnon.
The DOH, on the other hand, will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the DATRC.
According to Zubiri, Malaybalay was chosen to house the projected rehabilitation center as it was equidistant with the various progressive cities in Mindanao.
There are currently 44 existing DOH-Accredited Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers (DATRCs), 16 Government and 28 non-government facilities. These facilities can only accommodate a total of 6,000 patients.
As of January 16 this year, a total of 1,155,819 drug personalities have surrendered, eight to ten percent of which will need to be committed to a drug facility.
Executive Order No. 04, series of 2016, signed by President Duterte, mandates the creation of an inter-agency taskforce to be chaired by the DILG Secretary for the establishment and support of DATRCs.