(Eagle News) – The Department of Health has signed an agreement with the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) for the latter to help the government in the moral reformation of thousands of illegal drug dependents who have been rounded up by authorities, and are now undergoing rehabilitation.
The partnership to morally and socially reform the so-called illegal drug suspects rounded up in the government’s anti-illegal drug operations was formalized on Thursday (February 23) in the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the DOH and the INC inside the INC Central Office in Commonwealth, Quezon City.
DOH assistant secretary Dr. Elmer G. Punzalan, head of the Task Force Mega-Rehab Program, and INC General Secretary minister Radel Cortez, signed the MOA on behalf of the government and the INC, respectively.
Punzalan said he has sought the help of the INC because he believes the INC has proven itself to deliver “solid results” with regards to changing and renewing the lives of people, and in making them productive members of the community.
“Ang nakikita kong magandang ehemplong basehan ay ang pamamalakad sa Iglesia NI Cristo. Nakikita ko yung dedication. Nakikita ko yung coordination. Nakikita ko yung discipline, at yung paggabay, parang natutukan (What I see as a good example to base [this reformation program from] is the way of administration of the INC. I see the dedication. I see the coordination. I see the discipline, and the guidance, There is focus),” Health Undersecretary Punzalan explained in an interview with Eagle News.
He said he himself was a witness as to the successful efforts of the INC in its various socio-civic programs.
“Nakikita ko yung success e…. Naging saksi ako sa maraming gawain ng INC na may nararating, may nagawa (I see the success. I witnessed the many activities of the INC that have had results),” Punzalan stressed.
As the DOH official in charge of the rehabilitation of all drug dependents in the country’s rehab institutions, Punzalan said it was essential that these people need to be spiritually and morally rehabilitated towards community reintroduction.
He said that these drug dependents must themselves desire to change themselves within and should be equipped with the moral fortitude to resist going back into illegal drug dependence. Furthermore, institutions must be willing to provide for them a way back to the community instead of away from civil society.
He said this was what the INC was able to prove. They were able to reform people, and reform them for good.
“May resulta at tuluy-tuloy. Kasi nandoon yung puso, nandoon ang dedication (There are results, and [they are] continuous. Because the heart is there, the dedication is there),” Punzalan noted.
He also witnessed that those reached by the INC’s various activities have the notable qualities of “willingness” and the “discipline” to be better members of society.
Punzalan has been handling treatment and rehabilitation centers for drug dependents since the time of former President Fidel Ramos in the early 1990s.
This is the first time however that the DOH has entered into a memorandum of agreement with a religious institution to help them in their reformation program of illegal drug dependents currently housed in their treatment and rehabilitation centers.
The agreement covered “all treatments and rehabilitation centers under the direction, supervision and control” of the DOH.
Under the MOA, the DOH will allow the INC to conduct Bible studies, education, literacy and vocational trainings, developmental, sports, medical, health, recreation and other activities that will benefit the patients and personnel of the various DOH treatment and rehabilitation centers for illegal drug dependents.
The DOH said that this is in accordance with the government’s mandate to “eliminate the (drug dependents’) dependence on dangerous drugs” and in order for them to “become God-fearing, law abiding and productive citizens.”
There are currently 15 rehabilitation centers of the government for illegal drug dependents.
Initially, the DOH will choose pilot rehab centers where the INC program will start.
INC spokesperson, minister Edwil Zabala, emphasized that this was not the first time that the INC had extended its hand to help the government in its programs that would benefit the citizenry, including the government advocacy to help reform illegal drug dependents.
“Itong pagkilos ng pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ng DOH para harapin nang puspusan ang suliranin sa paglaganap ng ipinagbabawal na gamot, matagal nang nakikipagkaisa ang Iglesia Ni Cristo. Matagal nang ibinibigay ang suporta, ang ating pagtulong. Ngayon ay ginawa lang na higit na pormal sapagkat nagkasroon nga ng kasunduan, ng MOA sa pagitan ng DOH at INC, para lalong mabakuran ng kaayusan ang pakikipagtulungan ng INC sa DOH (This government endeavor through the DOH to earnestly face the problem of the proliferation of illegal drugs, the Iglesia Ni Cristo has long been helping in this. We have been giving our support, our help. Today it is just formalized since there is an agreement, a MOA between the DOH and the INC, so that this cooperation between the INC and the DOH would be bound by order),” Zabala said.
“Ang Iglesia Ni Cristo handang itulong ang nasa atin upang ang tao malikha na may banal na takot sa Diyos, marunong umibig sa Diyos, sa kanyang sarili at sa kanyang kapwa (The Iglesia Ni Cristo is ready to extend what we have so that people would have that sacred fear of God, would know how to love God, himself, and his fellowmen)” he added.
(Eagle News Service)