Sarangani to host Mindanao’s first community-based facility for drug offenders

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 04 May) — Preparatory works are underway for the establishment of Mindanao’s first-ever community-based reformation facility for drug law offenders in Malungon town in Sarangani Province.

The national highway in Malungon, Sarangani. Photo by SERAFIN RAMOS, JR.

Malungon town has been chosen by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as among the pilot sites in the country for the implementation of the flagship Balay Silangan program.

Malungon Mayor Maria Theresa Constantino said in a statement that they have signed a memorandum of agreement with the program’s national oversight committee for the hosting of the facility and rollout of the reformation program.

She said it will take off from the local government’s Outpatient Reformatory and Treatment Center for Drug Dependents, which opened in November 2016.

The drug rehabilitation hub, the first local government-run facility in Region 12, was established at the Villareal Resort in Barangay Nagpan.

The facility also serves as the main base of the municipality’s special task force against illegal drugs.

Valente Cariño, PDEA Region 12 director, said the Balay Silangan program will be formally launched in the area on May 22.

He said the initiative, which was officially launched in Manila last April 25, was based on DDB Resolution No. 2, series of 2018, or the “Balay Silangan – Guidelines for community involvement in reforming drug offenders into self-sufficient and Law-Abiding members of society.”

The program will be implemented in coordination with the DDB, PDEA, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Aside from Malungon, the other pilot areas are the province of Capiz and the cities of Caloocan and Cabanatuan.

“Balay Silangan means a house or home for change,” Cariño said.

The official said the upcoming community-based rehabilitation facility will mainly cater to local drug law offenders.

He said it will complement with the community-based rehabilitation programs for drug users that are being run by local government units (LGUs).

“It will serve drug offenders who availed of plea bargaining offers and pushers who wants to be reformed but were not yet identified or arrested by law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Once operational, Cariño said prospective clients will initially undergo an assessment by the DSWD.

If they are found eligible based on the established parameters, he said they will be accepted into the reformation program.

“While there, they will be given some skills trainings through TESDA so they will become productive once they go out of the facility,” he said.

Cariño said the Balay Silangan program will be replicated later on in other LGUs in Region 12.

He said LGUs that would be able to establish their own Balay Silangan and maintain their areas drug-cleared for three months will be conferred by the agency with the Sagisag ng Tagumpay awards. (MindaNews)