MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte – The very church where President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was baptized after being born here seven decades ago also served as a venue in launching a multi-sectoral, community based program for surrendering drug dependents.
On Saturday, August 6, on the occasion of the first of nine novena Masses for this year’s fiesta, the centuries-old Maasin Cathedral played host to the signing of a document that would seal the collective effort for caring the surrenderees — 1,022 police-documented personalities so far in this city alone, and still counting.
The undertaking was simply called Project RRD, incidentally the initials of the President, but this stands for Renewal and Recovery from Drugs, with the national template on Hopeburst-Gawad Kalinga as its model.
Msgr. Oscar Cadayuna, main celebrant of the Mass and Parish Vicar of the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish (OLAP), was the first to sign his name on the tarpaulin clipped on a plywood, and he was followed by local officials, Gov. Damian Mercado and City Mayor Nacional Mercado, for the province and city, respectively.
Also affixing his signature was Cong. Roger Mercado, Police Sr. Supt. Warren De Leon, provincial PNP Director, a lady police officer for the city police station, and representatives of government agencies like TESDA, DOH, DTI, as well as the business community, NGOs, the academe, and other private sector and religious groups.
Before the signing proper which was done before the final rites of the Holy Mass, Dr. Jerome Paler, GK provincial head, cited statistics on the rising phenomenon of drug users and pushers coming out into the open in just 37 days of the Duterte administration, an unexpected turn of events that needed an equally quick response.
Paler challenged the jampacked church goers to contribute in whatever way they can for Project RRD, to share their time, treasure, and talent for the overwhelming task that required support and cooperation of everybody.
During the dydm Kapihan sa PIA live last Friday, Paler explained that after the signing, the document will be presented to the city and provincial councils, apparently for funding support, then the training for caretaker teams will follow.
With caretaker teams in place, the tedious work on profiling individual surrenderee will come next to determine the degree of addiction and the corresponding intervention for a period of two years.
The old provincial hospital in barangay Mantahan has been agreed in principle as the Community Care Center for Project RRD, Paler disclosed. (Marcelo Pedalino/PIA8-Southern Leyte)