llocos Norte’s former drug dependents continue to undergo counseling

LAOAG CITY -— Former drug dependents in the province who recently surrendered to the Philippine National Police (PNP) continue to undergo counseling in village halls or at the comfort of their homes.

A bus driver, Willy (not his real name), said he used to take “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) because it made him stronger and awake for an approximately 10-hour drive from Laoag to Manila and vice versa.

With the intensified anti-illegal drug campaign, he voluntarily surrendered to the PNP late last year and pledged not to go back to drug use.

Following the surrender of some 14 drug users and pushers in Barangay Poblacion, Burgos town, village chief Jogie Jimenez said he continues to provide individual counseling to them inside his office at the Barangay Hall.

According to Jimenez, a team of village officials, police authorities and a pastor also find time to visit them at home.

“Right now, we are planning on giving them a livelihood project after they promised us to stop using prohibited drugs,” said Jimenez.

In a one-on-one interview with former drug dependents who requested for anonymity, some of them admitted that they tried drugs out of curiosity.

“I was told it easily cures a wound so I tried it for myself because I am diabetic,” said a former drug user in San Nicolas town.

Others said illegal drugs boosted their confidence and made them feel good.

In Ilocos Norte, the PNP, in partnership with the Provincial, Municipal/City and Barangay Peace and Order Councils, had been monitoring former drug users and pushers if they have fully complied with an earlier covenant entered into by concerned parties.

Of the four million users identified as of April 2017, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the PNP reported 1,266,966 surrenderers which resulted in about 26.45 percent reduction of the estimated total drug market.

Record further shows the intensified drug campaign under the Duterte administration also resulted in 28.57 percent reduction in index crimes nationwide from 134,958 from July to March 2016 to 96,398 in the same period this year. PNA-northboundasia.com