Count us in.” Hoping change for the better can happen, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma pledged to the Duterte administration to make available the vast resources of the local Roman Catholic Church in the rehabilitation program for drug pushers and users who have surrendered to local authorities.

The Metropolitan Archdio- cese of Cebu is one of the ecclesiastical provinces of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, considered as the mother church being the cradle of Catholicism in the country and the Far East.

It is composed of the island of Cebu with the suffragan (auxiliary) dioceses of Dumaguete in Negros, Maasin, Southern Leyte and Tagbilaran and Talibon in Bohol.

Palma expressed this commitment during a closed- door meeting with Department of Interior and Local Govern- ment (DILG) Secretary Mike Sueno last July 26 at Casino Espanol, Cebu City.

“They need help and we are there,” said Palma.

The encounter was organized by Ugnayan ng Barangay at Simbahan (UBAS-National) in coordination with DILG and Dilaab Foundation, Inc.

The meeting, presided by Fr. Carmelo Diola, chair, Dilaab Foundation, was joined in by Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide, Police Regional Director Noli Talino, Pocholo de Los Santos of Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Action Organization, DILG Regional Director Rene Burdeos and Dilaab Foundation officials.

“Even Pope Francis is saying reach out to the periphery that’s why I pledge the commitment of the church. Fr. Melo is saying if we can open our chapels, can we open our churches? I will force the priests to open the church. It is the house of God and why will God not open his house to his children, especially those in need?” Palma emphasized adding, “the illegal drug problem is the mother of all evils.”

Palma acknowledged that the Duterte administration is very serious in solving this problem “and this is one reason why we hope, adding with the grace of God change will happen.”

Quoting another arch- bishop, Palma said the problem is overwhelming….. “but if we dream with the community, in collaboration with its members, then this dream will become a reality.” (DN, Roger V. Paller)

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