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The municipality of Narra inaugurated Thursday its Balay Silangan Reformation Center, a facility that aims to capacitate former drug-offenders to become economically productive.
Located in Barangay Poblacion of the municipality, Narra’s Balay Silangan serves as the fourth drug reformation and retreat center that is able to be made into reality due to the collaboration of its major stakeholders—-the Philippine Drug Enforcement Unit Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) through the Narra Local Government Unit (LGU) and other contributing proponents.
Mario Ramos, PDEA MIMAROPA Director II, said the establishment of facilities such as Balay Silangan is derived from a joint resolution coming from PDEA and the Dangerous Drugs Board (DBB) which offers temporary shelter to former drug-offenders.
Ramos, however, also said that although creation of such facilities is already mandated by DILG and is included as one of the requirements of LGUs contending for the prestigious Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) Award, there are still contributing factors such as financial allocation that serves as a hinder in putting up reformation centers in other towns.
“Ang problema talaga diyan, budget. Without the necessary funding ng local chief-executive, talagang hindi mag-ooperate. Pero may style naman sila in terms of funding, nakadepende sa kanila,” Ramos said.
“However, politically wise, alam naman natin. Pag bumaba sa pwesto ang presidente kunwari, natural iba na naman ang priority nun. But considering that this is the priority of the government or the present admin, dapat immediate talaga, pero wala namang sinabing agad-agad,” he added.
On the other hand, Ramos noted that it is vital for every LGU to establish a Balay Silangan in their respective towns in order to provide better opportunities for drug surrenderers.
“Ang ginagawa ng Balay Silangan, tinutulungan silang kumita, kasi gusto nila eh. Ito kasing mga andito, ito sila ‘yung mga nagbebenta lamang ng kaunti. Sa totoo lang, sila inutusan lang, halos wala naman silang kinikita kasi small-time peddlers lang. Dito tinuturuan sila ng bagong oportunidad para kumita sa maayos na paraan,” Ramos said.
According to Ramos, on top of rehabilitating drug-surrenderers, Balay Silangan will also provide interventions, activities, training, retreats, and lectures in aspects of health, values, moral recovery and short training on TESDA vocational course to participants who will stay inside the facility for a month.
It is by this program, Ramos believes that drug surrenderees and former drug-offenders will have the chance to be instruments of change and be economically productive once they return to mainstream society.
“Yang droga, magpakalat-kalat man, isang-daan o isang libong kilo pa, mapunta man ‘yan dito, kung walang gagamit, kung walang user, walang pusher, walang adik, or any person who uses drug, useless lahat ng drugs na ‘yan. Walang kuwenta ‘yan,” Ramos said.
After his speech, Ramos, together with Narra Mayor Gerandy Danao and PMAJ Romerico Remo of Narra Municipal Police Station led the ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a blessing ceremony from Pastor Juley Juarez.
The inauguration was attended by a total of 20 drug surrenderees coming from the different barangays of Narra.