BACOLOD CITY – Some 30 drug offenders will be accommodated in the newly-opened Balay Silangan reformation center to be operated by the city government here under the supervision of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
The PHP5-million two-storey facility, located adjacent to the Bacolod City Police Office compound on Lacson Extension in Barangay Singcang-Airport, was inaugurated and blessed on Wednesday afternoon in rites led by Mayor Evelio Leonardia and PDEA-Western Visayas Assistant Regional Director Donelyn Hermedez.
“I am so glad that we have this kind of facility because it is badly needed. This is all about reformation and giving second chances to drug offenders,” Leonardia said.
The construction of Balay Silangan was funded under the City Mayor’s Office-Other Structures 2018 allocation.
“It is ready for occupancy,” Nicolas Gomez, PDEA-Negros Occidental and Bacolod City provincial officer, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.
Gomez said the orientation for staff and facilitators will be held on the first week of August, after which drug offenders who will qualify for the program will already be identified.
Only small-time drug pushers who have voluntarily surrendered, have entered into a plea bargain, or have completely served their sentence are qualified to be part of the reformation program under the Balay Silangan.
They will undergo screening and background investigation before acceptance, Gomez said.
Once accepted into the program, the drug reformists will undergo month-long general interventions such as continuing education and health awareness, and psychological/spiritual/physical activities, including counseling, moral recovery, values formation, personal and life skills, as well as livelihood and skills training programs to give reformers employment opportunities.
Gomez said some 15 personnel will be assigned by the city government to manage the Balay Silangan.
Although the Bacolod facility is the 40th inaugurated in Western Visayas, it was then identified by PDEA as the pilot site in 2018, supposedly the first in the Visayas and the second in the country.
Balay Silangan, a community-based reformation program aimed at rehabilitating surrendered drug personalities, seeks to build temporary shelters for drug offenders with the objective of reforming them into self-sufficient and law-abiding members of society.
Being reformatory in nature, the program is an alternative intervention for drug personalities who are not users and are not eligible to undergo medical treatment and rehabilitation in facilities supervised by the Department of Health.
Meanwhile, the construction of the city’s PHP35-million Bacolod City Drug Rehabilitation Center (BCDRC) is ongoing in Barangay Alijis.
The project funds included PHP15 million from the Dangerous Drugs Board and PHP20 million allocated by the city government.
The BCDRC will cater to drug surrenderers with severe substance use disorder.
Leonardia said that with these facilities put in place, Bacolod will have a “solid contribution” to the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“We hope that our campaign will be successful,” he added. (PNA)