MANILA, Oct. 17, 2015—A Claretian priest urged citizens to work on alternatives that will help the country rid of the drug menace that has been found to be very extensive.
“I think the President is serious about solving the problem of the country and I would like to believe that he cares about our youth,” said Claretian priest Fr. Arnold Abelardo, C.M.F.
Since Duterte assumed the presidency on June 30, at least 3,600 people have perished in gun battles with police or due to extrajudicial killings. The death toll translates to an average of 36 deaths daily.
“Our policemen are also people of faith who have conscience and families of their own,” he pointed out. “Besides, the problem of drugs cannot be solved by the police forces alone.”
Contribute, not just complain
Abelardo, together with volunteers of Ako ang Saklay (I am the Crutches) Center in Nueva Ecija, helped authorities establish a drug rehabilitation facility named Bahay Pag-asa (House of Hope) inside the PNP regional headquarters in Cabanatuan City.
On Aug. 24, he addressed the first batch of drug addicts and peddlers who were admitted at the facility. Volunteers from Ako ang Saklay Center provide guidance counselors and facilitators of exercise, prayers, Bible study lessons and psychosocial processing.
“The police are not trained to do rehabilitation, they are trained to maintain peace and order, to arrest and if assaulted, to defend themselves. Rehabilitation and advising are not part of their training,” he said.
However, only 30 individuals can be admitted at the Bahay Pag-asa for a month-long period. “What is important is we are starting something,” he pointed out. “You have to look at the drug issue as a health issue. It also covers the physical and mental well being of the person.”
Abelardo urged citizens to contribute
“The drug crisis cannot be solved by merely stopping the killings,” he claimed. “Let us not stop by just saying ‘stop the killing.’ Let us do our part to solve the problem because at the end of the day, it is an issue affecting our communities.”
The priest urged communities to rally behind and support the rehabilitation of drug offenders in their respective turfs.
“Drug addiction has to be addressed by the whole community,” he said. “When someone dies, the whole community gathers to mourn and to pray for the dead. When someone is celebrating a wedding, the whole community gathers to celebrate. When there is a fiesta, the community gathers and celebrated. I think when someone is in crisis, the community should gather as well to help and not to judge.”
Abelardo also urged fellow priests to help out instead of joining the blame game.
“It is very timely to make the parishes’ door of mercy open to people in crisis because of drug problems,” he pointed out. “We cannot remain indifferent. We cannot just pray for them or attack the government. We have to show compassion and we have to offer alternatives.” (Kris Bayos / CBCPNews)