EVERYONE deserves a second chance.
This is what Supt. Julius Arro, warden of the Cebu City Jail (CCJ) male dormitory, said at the graduation ceremony of 355 drug inmates who finished the eight-week Surrender to God (SuGod) Continuing Care Program on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.
The inmates were part of 10 batches of detainees at the CCJ Male Dormitory who availed themselves of a court-mandated plea bargaining for illegal drug cases.
In his message during the activity, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella assured the inmates who graduated in the program that if they continue to avoid illegal drugs once they are released, he is willing to facilitate their employment and eventual return to society.
Fe Barino, SuGod executive director, said the program was inspired by Labella who suggested to them to offer their services to the CCJ.
Before establishing the program at CCJ, Barino and SuGod have been facilitating community-based drug aftercare programs for rehabilitating drug users in various parishes in Cebu since 2016.
SuGod is one of two church-based drug aftercare programs being offered by the Archdiocese of Cebu, particularly the Cebu Archdiocesan Program for Drug Dependents (CAPDD).
Upon seeing that their program has made a positive effect on CCJ’s inmates, Barino plans to continue extending their services there.
“We believed even if the government’s war on drugs continues to press on or slows down, we can still provide service for drug addicts who need our help in recovering from their addictions,” Barino said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
She added that aside from community-based drug aftercare, they are planning to include vocational trainings to the SuGod program so that the inmates will have a job when they are released from detention.
She hopes that once the inmates who graduated from their program are released from detention, they will immediately contact them in order for them to continue helping them transition properly into the community.
Allan Bernidas, one of the drug detainees who graduated from the program, said that joining the program made him realize the true effect of engaging in illegal drugs.
Bernidas, who has been detained at the CCJ for three years, vowed to turn over a new leaf if he is released.
“If God will it that I will be released, I promise to change my life. I will not return to my drug habit,” he said in Cebuano. / JCT