In Bohol, drug ‘surrenderers’ who were not in the police drug list know they have Center for Drug Education and Counseling (CEDEC) trained people in their towns to come to for community based rehabilitation.
But, what about those who are in the police drug watch list, those who were nabbed for the possession of illegal drugs and paraphernalia, those who availed of the Supreme Court’s plea bargaining framework in drug cases, or those who have served prison sentences but still needs rehabilitation and would not qualify into a Department of Health (DOH) controlled medical facility?
The answer is Balay Silangan, explained Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency PDEA) agent Cornelio Espartero Jr., during the joint meeting of the Provincial Anti Drug Abuse Council and the Provincial Peace and Order Council, May 27 at the Conference Hall of the Office of the Governor in the new Capitol building.
During the previous PPOC and PADAC joint meeting, the PDEA floated the idea of Balay Silangan, but members demanded more information about the program, even as Bohol has identified lots for its donation to allow the construction of a drug rehabilitation facility.
This time, PDEA agent Espartero came with a powerpoint presentation of the implementation of the “Balay Silangan:” the national drug reformation program that offers temporary refuge to drug offenders who are on rehabilitation.
He said the facility aims to supply the temporary shelter of persons with substance use disorder (PSUD) with the goal of reforming these drug offenders into self-sufficient and law-abiding members of society.
Still much like the Bohol CEDEC installed community based rehabilitation program (CBRP) mechanism in the town, the Balay Silangan also banks on community involvement in reforming drug offenders into self-sufficient and law-abiding members of society.
Citing Section 11 of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No.2 Series of 2018, Espartero enumerated the following personalities who are eligible to enter the Program.
Eligible for it are drug personalities who have surrendered, with no pending criminal case and or warrant of arrest, and is not a high value target by law enforcement agencies.
In it too are drug personalities who voluntarily surrendered and belong to the PDEA and PNP Watch List labeled as Street Level Target (SLT) pusher.
Balay Silangan also includes drug personalities who availed of the plea bargaining agreement and or convicted under Section 15 on the use of dangerous drugs of the Dangerous Dugs Act (DDA) and are required to undergo drug reformation program as alternate intervention.
Finally, he said the temporary facility can also take in drug personalities who served jail terms for violation of the DDA.
According to PDEA, Balay Silangan reformation program also includes general interventions like continuing education and health awareness, psychological/spiritual/physical activities enhancement activities such as counseling, moral recovery, values formation, personal and life skills, among others.
Under the program, Balay Silangan clients are also given livelihood and skills training programs which include basic TESDA skills and competencies like soap making, massage training, basic carpentry, welding, haircutting, to give drug reformers clear options and employment opportunities when they finally complete the rehabilitation.
On a briefing with the PDEA senior and regional officials, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino was quoted as saying “Balay Silangan is built to rebuild lives.”
“The government can never give up on surrendering drug dependents and pushers. Hope is all they need to overcome their former selves and start over again. We will give our assurance that hope will be realized if they show the sincerity and commitment to change,” the PDEA chief said, adding that drug offenders undergoing the program must remain until completion of his rehabilitation.