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Naga’s Salvar Buhay: A light at the tunnel’s end for drug surrenderers

By Jason B. Neola

NAGA CITY — The local government here has re-strategized its reintegration program for illegal drug users and dealers to make it more accessible to everyone who wish to achieve a healthy and productive life in the community.

The need to re-strategize was put into consideration after some snags cropped up in the implementation of the city government’s reintegration program called Salvar Buhay, which can be traced from the surrenderers’ weak participation like the non-appearance of a large number of drug personalities in spiritual counseling sessions and values-formation seminars administered by the members of national Auxiliary Chaplaincy Philippine, Inc. (NACPHIL).

Also a large number of the drug personalities who are among those who surrendered in July 2016 were also found to have returned to their trade and of using again illegal drugs.

A group of personnel from the Naga City Dangerous Drugs Board (NCDDB) along with students of the City College of Naga and employees of City Social Workers and Development Office (CSWDO) conducted interviews with surrenderers to establish the level of their addiction. They were trained by the Department of Health (DOH) for this specific undertaking.

The cataloguing of surrenderers into mild, moderate or severe cases is essential as it would be used as basis in determining the degree or extent of assistance they need under the program. Drug users and/or pushers categorized into “severe” shall be committed to an in-patient treatment and rehabilitation like that being offered by the Camarines Sur Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Barangay Pamukid, San Fernando, Camarines Sur.

In this city, the program was able to identify 62 drug surrenderers to be in “severe” cases while 68 in “mild” and 54 in “moderate” stage.

Of 2,161 drug personalities who surrendered to the NCDDB and the Naga City Police Office (NCPO) in July, this year, only 545 of them had voluntarily submitted for a drug test conducted last month. The result: 110 or 20% of those who took the test were found to be positive of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride).

“The result is quite disturbing and we can say that it has a tendency to go upward further including the number of those who refused to undergo the test if we will not act along with our partner agencies” says Jose Importante, executive director of NCDDB.

NCDBB is a special body tasked to coordinate and implement the various projects and activities of the city’s comprehensive anti-drug abuse program. It was created by City Ordinance 2001-064 which was authored by Mayor John G. Bongat when he was still city councilor.