Baguio’s community-based drug rehab program feted


BAGUIO CITY — The Baguio City government and local non-government group Serenity in the Steps have been feted with the 2017 Lingap Circle Award for its community-based rehabilitation efforts for reforming drug users in the city

Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan received the award through city welfare officer Betty Fangasan and Serenity in the Steps officer JunJun Abella in a simple rite in the city on Feb. 20.

Non-government organization “Rehabilitation Alternative Program Interventions for the treatment and prevention of illegal Drug dependency (RAPID) is a network of academe, civil society, and faith-based organizations assisting the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in promoting and activating community-based drug rehabilitation programs.

Fangasan said the city’s continuing “no relapse” program is what makes the Baguio different from other local governments.

Baguio boasts of an integrated, participatory rehabilitation program for what the city calls “Persons with Substance Use Disorders” (PSUDs), or those who voluntarily surrendered to the city government in 2016.

Serenity in the Steps runs a life resource center, where the reforming drug users are assisted to avoid craving for the illegal substance and go back to addiction again.

The non-government organization was the first group to come forward to help the city government after thousands of substance users yielded in response to the local government’s Baguio Emergency Response to Addiction program.

“They found the program effective,” Fangasan said. “The fact that out of the 2,395 drug surrenderers in the city, we were able to profile 772 and more than 500 had graduated in the program and doing well in the community. They are helping and they are getting rid of drugs they used to take in.”

She said out of those profiled, 46 were minors, 721 adults, and five were senior citizens.

In January 2018, Fangasan said, 12 more drug users voluntarily gave themselves in and are being encouraged to go through the profiling process for better treatment.

She explained that profiling is an in-depth process to know how many years the person has been using illegal drugs, the kind of drugs used, the reasons for taking drugs, how the person accesses the substance, and the person’s desire to reform.

These facts, she said, would help the implementors of the drug rehabilitation come up with a more appropriate program for each of the drug users.

Fangasan also stressed the importance of involving the family and the community.

“We cannot concentrate only on the PSUDs we have to involve their family and the community where they live. That is why we are reactivating the Barangay Anti Drug Abuse Councils for their rehabilitation,” she said.

Fanglasan said the city’s community-based drug rehabilitation program is specific to a particular person who undergoes different modules, depending on the result of the profiling.

“If they cannot fit in the community-based program, we refer them for a center-based drug rehab program. That is the reason why we have to profile to determine what program is fitted for a person,” further explained, noting some of the drug users are severe cases.

The city mayor is only too grateful to the implementors of the program.

“We did not have funds when we saw this problem, but there were those who came forward and helped,” Domogan said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.

“They give their services to the city without any remuneration given to them. They came forward to be our partners,” he said, noting many of Serenity in the Steps’ members were also trained abroad.

According to Fangasan, the Lingap Circle Award from RAPID is the city’s third national award for 2017, the first and second being given by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Philippine National Police.

The Lingap Circle Award 2017 is in recognition of the Baguio’s bridging leadership and exemplary service as a champion of community-based rehabilitation in the Philippines. It is jointly given by RAPID and SEAOIL foundation.