PDEA undertakes drug 'harm reduction’ efforts

ILOILO CITY -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 6 (Western Visayas) has emphasized the role of harm reduction efforts in curbing illegal drugs in the region.

Alex Tablate, PDEA-6 director, said on Saturday that the agency does not only focus on drug supply reduction but also on harm reduction.

Supply reduction is being undertaken by the PDEA through operations against illegal drugs while demand reduction is done through incessant anti-drug advocacies.

“Our work is not only through the traditional approach, like supply and demand reductions. We also prioritize harm reduction,” Tablate said in a phone interview.

Aaron Aquino, director general of PDEA, visited the regional office at Fort San Pedro Drive in this city on Wednesday.
Tablate said Aquino has addressed the regional office’s “internal concerns” and encouraged the strengthening of its harm reduction efforts.

“We assure that we are doing our job in terms of harm reduction. This would include our two Balay Silangan centers which are fully operational,” he said.

The Balay Silangan centers on Iloilo’s component city of Passi and Tapaz, Capiz which began operations in April, house an average of 20 drug surrenderers each, he said.

Moral recovery and other intervention by a non-government organization, spiritual organizations, Philippine National Police (PNP), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Social Welfare and Development, among others, are being provided to drug surrenderers at Balay Silangan centers.

“We have in-house sessions wherein they cannot go home but can be visited by family members for a certain period of time,” he said.

He added the PDEA’s efforts will not suffice as surrenderers also need the support of their families.

“If they are not given support, they can backslide to their illegal activities,” he said.

Some “clients” will graduate next month, Tablate said, adding that surrenderers who complied with the rehabilitation at Balay Silangan centers will continue to be monitored.

“Our centers are running well and we would like to extend our gratitude to the local government units that had been supportive from the start,” he said.

The centers in Passi City and Tapaz are not exclusive for the locals but can also accommodate drug surrenderers from neighboring towns.

Additional Balay Silangan in the towns of Miag-ao, San Miguel Alimodian, and Carles -- all of Iloilo province -- are set to be established in the first or second week of July, Tablate said. (PNA)


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