Palma to priests: Implement it now!

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma exhorted priests to immediately implement a program for drug surrenderees in their respective parishes and districts.

Palma made this exhortation during the launching of the Cebu Archdiocesan Program for Drug Dependents last Feb 21? at the San Pedro Calungsod Chapel in Cebu City.

“Let this meeting be not the end, the important question is when are you going to implement,” Palma told hundreds in attendance during the assembly.

The gathering was composed mostly of priests and religious but there were representatives of other sectors, Churchmandated organizations, PNP and barangay and government officials. PNP Region 7 Director Chief Supt. Noli Taliňo was also present.

According to Palma the program has to be implemented immediately using the church structure in coordination with other volunteer groups.

“The most senior has to conduct the meeting and decide when to start,” he adds.

Palma said the archdiocese had a plan for this as early as last year because “we have seen the plight of drug dependents who cry for help.

“Let us not label them as criminals because it means the imposition of punishment rather than to treat them as sick people who need to be cured.

“They need help from someone greater than themselves…….with the grace of God if we help one another wonderful things happen,he said.

Templates of two rehabilitation programs were presented during the gathering: Surrender to God or SuGod and LaBang or Lahat Bangon.

Fe Barino, founder of Love God Charismatic Community, utilized their center located in Yati, Liloan, Cebu for a ten-day Life in the Spirit Seminar designed for drug dependents.

Through the assistance of Rene Francisco who manages two rehab facilities, a module was implemented. Six batches have already completed the course and are now undergoing the aftercare program.

According to Barino it started as a health assistance initiative for employees of Duros Construction who were found positive of illegal drugs.

Barino who owns the construction firm later realized many of those who tested positive for drug use enrolled in the program when they learned it was offered.

On the other hand, LaBang is a community-based rehab program piloted in San Roque Parish in Subangdaku, Mandaue City.

Initiated by Fr. Carmelo Diola, chairman of Dilaab Foundation, the program consists of a six-month module involving the UBAS (Ugnayan ng Barangay at Simbahan) and various volunteers groups who are also engaged in aftercare program.

“Members of the family, friends and neighbors are part of the success story…….let us entrust our efforts to God,” adds Palma.

Bishop Dennis Villarojo of the secretariat said the priests, religious and laity can choose any of the programs or a mixture of the two and tailor it to local needs.

“But one can choose nothing, sit back and relax and let others do it but you are answerable to God.” (Roger V. Paller)

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