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Priest: ‘Addict’s problem is not sobriety but connection’

Priest: ‘Addict’s problem is not sobriety but connection’

Vicar General for Pastoral Affairs Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr. reminds facilitators and volunteers of their roles for an orderly diocesan gathering of EJK victims’ families at the Sacred Heart Village Covered Basketball Court in Lagro, Quezon City on Dec. 9, 2017. PHOTO COURTESY OF LULU NARIO

By Minnie Agdeppa

December 12, 2017

Manila, Philippines

Giving deeper insight into the internal struggle of drug dependents, a priest of the Diocese of Novaliches, one of areas in the metro most affected by extra judicial killings, said a drug addiction is more an issue of personal connection than self-control or sobriety.

“The response to addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection,” said Diocese of Novaliches Vicar General for Pastoral Affairs Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr. during the Diocese of Novaliches meeting with Pax Christi International on Nov. 29.

“I think that’s the realization. It’s establishing connections,” emphasized the priest. “We have to connect the drug user or the addict to himself or herself…to his/her family and…to the community. And to connect the family and community to every one and one another.”

‘Surrendering Day’

Another priest, Fr. Luciano Felloni, who has since gained a reputation for advocating community-based drug rehabilitation, shared how the increasing incidents of EJKs in his parish community started alarming him last year.

When drug dependents started seeking refuge in his parish out of fear of being killed if they surrendered to the barangay or to the police, he decided to establish a rehabilitation program.

Felloni then launched on Sept. 1, 2016 a “Surrendering Day” as well as a Community-Based Drug Rehabilitation Program (CBDRP) in partnership with Barangay 174 and supported by the Caloocan City Government, the Caloocan City Police, and the Diocese of Novaliches.

Fully recovered and alive

Since then, his parish’s CBDRP has had three batches of graduates who have since fully recovered and reintegrated into the community.

Part of his collaboration with the PNP was to have CBDRP graduates delisted from the government’s drug watch list, which, he said, has been helpful in “keeping the surrenderees alive.”

The Diocese of Novaliches’ meeting with Pax Christi International, a European-founded organization working to establish peace, respect for human rights, justice and reconciliation in more than 50 countries worldwide, is part of its efforts, through its Pastoral Office, to share its CBDRP modules and strategies to other dioceses, organizations, and groups in the hope of replicating its advocacy for better communities, especially in the face of the government’s all-out war on illegal drugs.

Currently, eight CBDRP Centers have been set up corresponding to eight of the most EJK-affected areas in the diocese.


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