DAGUPAN CITY – At least 388 former drug surrenderers will now be able to start a new life after graduating from the Sagip-User Rehabilitation and Empowerment (SURE) program of the Dagupan city government on September 7.

These were the last batch of former drug surrenderers who went through the program, bringing the number of drug reformists in the city to 729 since 2016.

The first and second batches were composed of 101 and 240, respectively.

The SURE program was launched by the city government to provide free moral and spiritual formations for drug users undergoing rehabilitation. It was also held in close coordination with PNP Dagupan and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

During the program, the City Health Office provided lectures on illegal drugs and its ill effects, internal and external triggers and how to cope up with addiction while religious groups also gave spiritual activities and discussions.

Members of PNP Dagupan also gave motivational lectures while reiterating the need to discourage them from using illegal drugs.

Drug reformists were required to attend four sessions in four weeks in order to complete the program.

During the graduation rites held at the PNP Dagupan Station, P/Supt. Jandale Sulit advised the reformists to use this program as an opportunity to start their lives anew.

“You should think about your families and the direction of your lives. There will be more opportunities for you to have decent jobs as the city is continuously thriving. We should be helping our city government. Gusto ko kayo ang kasama at kaagapay ko sa pagpapatupad ng peace and order dito sa Dagupan,” said P/Supt. Sulit.

Meanwhile, Mayor Belen T. Fernandez also encouraged the graduates in her message.

“We all face our own sets of challenges. We understand why you suffered from your past situations and decisions but we are all given new opportunities in life. Sana po ay magbagong buhay na tayo. Isipin ninyo na hindi na kayo babalik sa droga.” said Fernandez.,

Among those who also gave their support to the drug reformists were PCINSP. Norman T. Florentino of Pangasinan PPO, PDEA Provincial Officer Dexter Asayco, Councilor Joey Tamayo and Punong Barangays Evangelita Dela Cruz (Calmay), Helen Fermill (Tebeng), Julita Perez (Pantal), Dexter Meneses (Lasip Chico) and Ferdinand Lamsen (Salisay) as well as members of the barangay council of Bonuan Gueset.

A surprise drug test was also conducted during the ceremony to ensure that the graduates are free from drugs.

All 338 drug reformists will be continuously monitored by the PNP Dagupan and are required to report to their respective barangays every month before their names could be recommended for delisting in the drug watchlist.

According to P/Supt. Sulit, all 31 barangays of the city have been cleared of illegal drugs since December 2017.  The city is now aiming to be recognized as drug-free by PDEA on the national level. (Verdelle De Vera/CIO)