By Chito Chavez
At least 200 drug surrenderees in Quezon City have successfully completed a skills training program initiated by Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte.
Belmonte said the program intends to provide the drug suspects and their families with practical skills that will come in handy for their livelihood or small business.
“We do not judge you because of your past. We’re here to help you get back to your feet, that’s why we have provided you with these simple, short courses that you will really find useful in starting your own livelihood,” Belmonte said.
The 291 graduates comprised the first batch of beneficiaries of the skills training program organized by the Office of the Vice Mayor, Quezon City Skills and Livelihood Foundation, Inc., and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
The one-day courses include balloon decor-making, candy-making, soap-making, meat processing, and home bread-making.
“Ito ay mga simpleng matutunan pero may pera sa mga ganitong kasanayan (Thse are simple things that they can learn which will provide them with sources of income). With these new knowledge and skills you can start your life anew,” Belmonte encouraged the drug surrenderees.
The graduates received Training and Entrepreneurship certificates and starter kits consisting of basic implements and supplies corresponding to each trainee’s course.
The first batch of drug suspect-beneficiaries came from barangays Old Balara, Quirino 3A, Quirino 2B, Pansol, E. Rodriguez, Bungad, San Vicente, Kaligayahan, Escopa III, Pasong Tamo, and Sangandaan, according to Christian Bautista, officer-in-charge of the Quezon City Skills and Livelihood Foundation, Inc.
Only last February, at least 500 former drug dependents and substance abusers were hired as laborers in the ongoing construction of Metro Rail Transit System Line 7 (MRT-7) through the efforts of Belmonte, who heads the Quezon City Anti-Drug Abuse Advisory Council (QCADAAC).
QCADAAC has signed an agreement with San Miguel Corp. (SMC) for the employment of reformed drug dependents who have surrendered to the city government and the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).
SMC, through its subsidiary Universal LRT Corporation BVI (ULC), was selected by the Department of Transportation to build the 22.8-kilometer, P62.7-billion MRT Line 7 project, which will take at least three years to finish.
The 500 former drug dependents were among the 2,000 drug surrenderees who completed the community-based drug rehabilitation program of QCADAAC and were subsequently taken out of the drug watch lists, according to Belmonte.
About 16,000 have surrendered to QCADAAC and the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) through the Oplan Tokhang of the Philippine National Police (PNP