HIGHLIGHT – Criminals and drug addicts in Davao City don’t all end up dead as presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte promised they will. Some of them end up in rehab.
The Davao City Treatment and Rehabilitation Center for Drug Dependents (DCTRCDD), originally a Department of Social Welfare and Development project, is a drug addict’s alternative to death or jail.
Reporter Pia Ranada shared her observations when she visited the community in her report for Rappler.
Located 17 kilometers away from the city central, the "therapeutic community" is a 1.2-hectare compound laden with nature, charming gazebos, dormitories and gardens alongside the footpaths.
Other amenities include a medical unit, dirty kitchen area, basketball court, and a church.
Volunteers and psychology students often visit here to serve the community.
The medical section consists of some doctors and regular psychologists. Inspirational messages fill the walls of this unit.
The dormitories for rehab patients are always kept clean and orderly. Posters of general house rules and regulations are always visible to the eye.
Notnot Gabato, a nurse in the medical section, said that the 88 patients currently admitted in the rehab center are mostly shabu (crack) and marijuana addicts. Though some patients are also in rehab for vulkasil (elastomeric sealant) or rugby (contact cement) addictions.
Initially, DCTRCDD did not open under Duterte’s line up of projects. But in 2001, the DSWD passed the facility to the Davao City government.
Duterte, who was already serving his 4th term as mayor, allocated P12 million local funds to revamping the old facilities into a rehab center for addicts according to the center's manager, Gene Gulanes.
The Davao City government covers all the costs for the patients.
“As of the present, the patients' stay at the rehab center is free of charge. Based on our calculation, the government is spending almost P17,000 to P20,000 per patient per month,” said Gulanes.
This means the government is devoting around P1.5 million per month for patient rehabilitation, which is also comprised of social services, health and medical, education, psychiatric and psychological services, and nutrition.
An average of 100 patients are admitted to the center every year, while around 100 patients are also released annually.
The center also conducts “aftercare” for released patients that include follow-up check-ups and therapy on how the patient is coping up as a reformed member of society.
According to Ranada's report, there are about 40 drug rehab centers accredited by the Department of Health.
Many poverty-stricken families opt to admit their loved ones to DCTRCDD because it is free of charge, while private rehab facilities can be too costly, Gabato explained.
Children in Conflict with the Law
Located in the same barangay as DCTRCDD is Davao City’s “Bahay Pag-asa Children’s Village,” a rehab center for “children in conflict with the law” or CICL.
Bahay Pag-asa is a 24-hour institute that offers short-term residential care for offenders aged 13 to 17.
Davao City's Bahay Pag-asa began operating in 2014, two years after the approval of the Amended Juvenile Justice Welfare Act (Republic Act No 10630) which requires all LGUs to build their own rehab facilities for juveniles.
Duterte, on his 7th term as mayor, approved the establishment of Bahay Pag-asa despite his disagreement with the amended juvenile justice law, said barangay captain Angela Librado-Trinidad.
A 14-year-old resident named Matt said he was admitted to the facility nine months ago after he was convicted for raping his sister.
“Hindi ko alam ginagawa ko kasi sabog pa ako sa droga (I didn’t know what I was doing because I was high on drugs),” said Matt, who was formerly addicted to rugby.
John, 19, who has been in the rehab center since he was 15, was detained for stealing alongside his friends.
John now holds a TESDA certificate for welding which he acquired during his stay in the center.
In the facility, John is in charge of the kitchen, and cooks for others every day.
“Mas komportable dito kasi safety ka. Sa labas, maraming away, lahat mayroon, kasi freedom. Ngayon, hindi na freedom. Inutos ng Panginoon kaya nandito ako,” he said.
(I’m very much comfortable here because it’s safe. Outside, there are a lot of fights; everything is overwhelming, because you are free. Here, no more freedom. God commanded that I be here.)