THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency will lead a massive government program to build shelters called “Balay Silangan” which will house drug personalities who have surrendered under the ongoing Philippine National Police Oplan: Tokhang and other administration initiatives to reform drug offenders and allow them to return to mainstream society.
PDEA chair Director General Aaron N. Aquino said that the program is part of their promise of a renewed and better life for drug offenders who have surrendered to police and other government authorities and promised to mend their ways and pursue legitimate mean of livelihood.
Aquino said that the Balay Silangan is a national drug reformation program which offers temporary refuge with the objective of reforming drug offenders into self-sufficient and law-abiding members of society.
He cited Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation Number 2, Series of 2018 approved last January 24 which laid the groundwork for Balay Silangan.
The PDEA chief said that general interventions, like continuing education and health awareness, and psychological/spiritual/ physical activities such as counseling, moral recovery, values formation, personal and life skills, among others, are provided under the program.
Livelihood and skills training programs which include soap making, massage training, basic carpentry, welding, haircutting, etc. would be likewise provided to give drug reformers employment opportunities, he added.
Aquino, however, said that there are specific conditions for eligibility to the program that must be met by surrendering drug personalities.
“First, they must not belong to the PDEA/PNP target list, wanted list and watch list, or has any other pending criminal case/s.” second, those who availed of the plea bargaining agreement and/or convicted under Section 15, Article II of RA 9165 who are required to undergo rehabilitation and 3rd, those who served jail terms for violation of the anti-drug law,” he said.
Balay Silangan, the PDEA chief said is built to rebuild lives. “The government can never give up on surrendering drug dependents and pushers. Hope is all they need to overcome their former selves and start over again. We will give our assurance that hope will be realized if they show the sincerity and commitment to change,” the PDEA chief said adding that drug offenders must complete the program.
A National Oversight Committee chaired by PDEA shall be formed to oversee the implementation of Balay Silangan. He said that its members include officials from the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Technical Education and Skills Development Administration, Parole and Probation Administration, Bureau of Corrections, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of National Defense, the PNP and the Armed Forces.
Aquino said the Balay Silangan Program National Oversight Committee called their first meeting at the PDEA main conference room in Quezon City last Thursday .
A Regional Oversight Committee shall serve as counterpart at the regional level to ensure the establishment, operation and sustainability of Balay Silangan programs in the provinces and municipalities.
A retired police general, Aquino patterned the Balay Silangan after his Bahay Pagbabago reformatory centers, which he established during his term as director of the Police Regional Office 3 in Central Luzon in 2016.