The Drug Dependent: A Person, A Challenge
Another Kapihan sa Silsilah was held last August 13, 2016. Now on its 38th conduct, this Kapihan focused on one of the most controversial issues in the country today – Drug Addiction. There were three speakers that morning namely Dr. Casto Hermino, Jr., the Chairperson of the Zamboanga City Medical Center Psychiatry Department, Atty. Mohammad Taha Arakama, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Zamboanga City Director, and Mrs. Violeta Magaso, the Administrator of Zamboanga City Medical Center.
“The Drug Dependent: A Person, A Challenge” was the theme from which standpoint the invited speakers shared relevant information and their personal insights.
Dr. Hermino, in his sharing, discussed some information pertaining to some historical facts of drug abuse and how these illegal substances influence the mind and the wellbeing of the dependents. He also touched on some social impacts of this illegal drug abuse both locally and internationally. During his sharing, he emphasized that this rampant illegal drug trafficking and abuse is a massive problem that is getting worse. Drug dependents, Dr. Hermino explained, can be anybody nowadays – students, professionals, and community leaders. Nevertheless, Dr. Hermino asserted that this dependent, however worse she or he is becoming, is a human person endowed with dignity. He also added that these dependents actually are not necessarily criminals. Instead, they are victims. This is the very reason why, as a doctor, he advocates every way to educate the people about how evil drug abuse can be. He pointed out present efforts of the government and the private sector on rehabilitating drug dependents with some information also on how these dependents behave and how they look at life.
Mrs. Magaso, a member of the Emmaus Circle, shared the view of the Catholic Church on issues of Human Rights and the Pro-Life advocacy. This has been also an important issue to address since the drug dependent is always a human person. How do we deal with them? What should we do in order to help them, while trying all we can to respect their dignity? These are but some of the important questions in her sharing. Mrs. Magaso also pointed out that even drug carriers or pushers, whether drug dependents or not, are human persons too. Extrajudicial killings, which is practically connected to illegal drug trafficking and abuse, have been happening in many parts of the Philippines for months now. The pro-life advocacy, Mrs. Magaso stressed, must be intensified now more than ever since what at stake is life, however wasted it might be, for the dependents or the pushers.
Atty. Arakama, for his part, shared the legal matters connected to illegal trafficking and abuse of drugs. One striking point that he said was that “illegal drug trafficking and abuse is like a termite eating up our society.” He reiterated that even in our legal system, drug dependents are victims and therefore should be treated equally. Furthermore, he touched on the present reality of how the local government of Zamboanga, together with concerned sectors of society, works for the welfare of drug dependents in the city.
Since the forum was an opportunity for concerned sectors of society to be heard, the organizers invited even the City Police Office of Zamboanga. No less than the PNP City Director, PSupt. Luisito Magnaye was present and he honored our request to say something for the participants. He reported some details about the status of the campaign against illegal drugs in the city. During the open forum, a participant raised a question to Director Magnaye. The question was “Are those who surrendered sincere?” Director Magnaye responded, “Well, not necessarily since there were times that they tend to go back to their usual ways just after few days of surrendering.” Dr. Hermino also added that in the case of those who had been dependent on illegal drugs for many years, their sincerity of surrendering could be really questionable since relapses are inevitable to happen.
Indeed, the drug dependent is a person and yet a challenge. One should not forget that the society at large has a responsibility to help this person. Why? Because of the simple truth that he is our brother. He is a person with human dignity. Now the challenge is on how to help him. We need to come together and find ways.