ILOILO CITY – Western Visayas has 26 Balay Silangan reformation centers that are ready to help and give illegal drug pushers and users a new chance in life.
Shey Tanaleon, spokesperson for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Western Visayas (PDEA 6), said in an interview Tuesday that all provinces have structures or buildings that can cater to pusher-surrenderers.
“Balay Silangan is a reformatory program. It is an alternative intervention for our drug personalities who are not users and not eligible for medical treatment and rehabilitation facilities since they are pusher-surrenderers,” she said.
The center will give them another chance for a temporary shelter. The objective, she said, is to make them self-sufficient and law-abiding members of society.
In Iloilo the centers are in Passi City, Miagao, Dingle, Bingawan, Guimbal, Igbaras, Concepcion, Pavia, Tubungan, New Lucena, Barotac Viejo, Sta. Barbara, Pototan and Leganes.
The reformation centers in Capiz are in Tapaz, Jamindan, and Dao towns; Lezo, Madalag, Malay, Libacao, New Washington, and Banga in Aklan; Nueva Valencia in Guimaras; Hamtic, Antique; and Pulupandan in Negros Occidental.
“As of today we have an ongoing activity in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras where we have 12 clients,” Tanaleon said.
Inside the center, they follow a program of instruction provided by the PDEA.
Stakeholders such as local government units (LGUs), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), religious sector, and other agencies also share their expertise to center clients.
The program lasts for three months; one month is mandatory in-house and the remaining two months is a combination of facility and outside activities.
To date, she added that the centers have produced 90 graduates composed of 84 males and six females.
While there are graduates, she said that there are cases of relapse or those who revert to their illegal activities, although not much.
“Most of our graduates were given livelihood, personal and life skills that help them avail of employment opportunities instead of going back to their previous illegal activities,” she said.
In addition to the 26, PDEA is currently working out the opening of another center in Lambunao, Iloilo.
The establishment of the Balay Silangan reformation center is one requirement for a municipality to be declared drug-cleared.
“This is part of our post-operation phase to ensure that they have a center that can cater to their pushers, in case, rather than going to other municipalities,” she said.
In the region, 46 municipalities have barangays that are already compliant with the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) regulations.
However, not all have been formally declared as cleared because they still have to establish their reformation centers.
Other member agencies of the oversight committee also have to conduct revalidation to ensure that there are no illegal drug activities in their municipalities, Tanaleon added. (PNA)