MANILA, Philipppines – Vice President Leni Robredo called on uniformed personnel, the Church, and other stakeholders to support community rehabilitation programs to help drug dependents recover from addiction.
The Vice President attended the graduation ceremony of the Bayang May Ugnayan at Kalinga sa Pamilya Laban sa Droga (Bukas-Palad) community-based treatment program in San Antonio, Nueva Ecija on Tuesday night, November 28.
A total of 28 recovering drug users completed the 30- to 45-day rehabilitation program led by Ako ang Saklay in partnership with the Church, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and even the local police and military officers.
"Sa atin pong [mga pulis], sa ating [mga sundalo]: Sa inyo po kami huhugot ng pag-asa. Alam po namin na mas marami iyong matitino. Alam po namin na mas marami iyong bukas ang puso sa mga kasama 'nyo," Robredo said, addressing the police and military officers present during the event.
(To our police, to our soldiers: We have hope in you. We know that many of you are decent. We know that many of you are open-hearted.)
"Sana po iyong mga graduates po natin dito, tingnan po kayo bilang kakampi, tingnan po kayo bilang tagapagbigay sa kanila ng proteksyon. Kaya salamat po, iyong pagpunta 'nyo ngayong gabi, pagpapalakas po ng loob naming lahat," she added.
(I hope the graduates we have here will look at you as their allies, as the people who will give them protection. So thank you for coming here tonight because you strengthened our resolve.)
Robredo is a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody war on drugs, which has led to the deaths of thousands of alleged drug dealers and users. (READ: Robredo calls on PNP to prove killing not a state policy)
The Supreme Court is currently hearing oral arguments on the petition seeking to declare as unconstitutional the Philippine National Police's Command Memorandum Circular No. 16-2016 and the Department of the Interior and Local Government's Memorandum Circular No. 2017-112.
On second chances
In her speech on Tuesday, Robredo said community stakeholders play a crucial role in helping drug dependents. (READ: Robredo: Family, church key in nat'l drug rehab program)
"Mula pa po sa umpisa, ito na po iyong pinaglalaban ko: Ang pakikipaglaban po na ang paraan sa pagsugpo ng problema sa droga ay hindi karahasan – hindi karahasan ang solusyon – bagkus dapat tingnan iyong mga nalululong sa droga bilang mga biktima na kailangang tulungan," she said.
(Since the beginning, this is what I have been fighting for: That the way to address the problem of drugs is not through violence – violence is not the solution – but we must look at drug addicts as victims who need our help.)
"Pinapakipaglaban po natin, mula pa noong umpisa, na dapat sana iyong mga komunidad ay magkaisa. Kasi hindi po ito problema na kaya ng nalululong, hindi po ito problema na kaya ng pamilya lamang; pero isa itong napakakomplikadong problema, na dapat bawat isa sa atin umako ng responsibilidad," added the Vice President.
(I have been pushing for communities to be united. Because when a person gets addicted, it's not just a problem of the family; it's a complicated problem that each of us must take responsibility for.)
She also told the drug rehabilitation program's graduates to take advantage of the second chance given to them.
"Hindi po magiging madali paglabas 'nyo ulit. Paglabas 'nyo, marami pa ring pagsubok. Pero ang kaibahan ngayon, nandiyan kayo para sa isa't isa... Kaya hindi dahilan para madapa ulit tayo kung sumasalubong tayo ng napakaraming kahirapan," said Robredo.
(Being out into the world again will not be easy. When you go out there, there will still be many obstacles. But the difference now is you have each other... So there's no reason for you to stumble when hardships come your way.) – Rappler.com