STO DOMINGO, Albay, Sept. 9 (PNA)-–Government social workers in the Bicol region have selected the fisherfolk from two coastal villages in Bacacay, Albay, who will undergo training so they can be a support mechanism to families in communities fighting the scourge of drug abuse.
Nida Macenas, social welfare officer 3 of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Bicol (DSWD-5), said the chosen fisherfolk will form part of the volunteers to to be called Team Balikatan Rescue and Emergency (TeamBRE) for the “Family Drug Abuse Prevention Program.”
“TeamBRE is composed of fisherfolk trained to assist village officials in rescue and emergency during disasters,” she said.
Macenas, however, said their training will not be limited to disaster-related operations because they can also be mobilized as advocates to prevent the menace of illegal drugs in their villages.
She said TeamBRE will be coordinated by the DSWD-Bicol field office for this program which also aims to help the government in its grassroots campaign to curb drug abuse.
Macenas said the two-day training seeks to develop and enhance the partnership between the “vulnerable sectors,” such as the fisherfolk, and the local stakeholders.
She said the collaboration will develop a mechanism not just for effective disaster management but also to help prevent potential threats to the community like the proliferation of illegal drugs.
Macenas said that TeamBRE volunteers are expected to become “frontline messengers” in the community on such advocacy as the “prevention and control of illegal drugs.”
She added that aside from this the volunteers can help deter potential health threats such as dengue, rabies, human immunodeficiency virus or HIV and sexually transmitted infections.
“They can start their information and education in their own families to ensure a drug-free home and community,” Macenas said.
DSWD Bicol has initially launched project TeamBRE as consisting of teams of fisherfolk engaged in the rescue and evacuation of affected families in coastal villages and other disaster-prone areas.
Macenas, however, characterized disasters as “seasonal” in nature so the TeamBRE volunteers could also be advocates on drug prevention as illegal drugs have “saturated the grassroots.”
She explained that during emergencies and disasters TeamBRE volunteers have the opportunity to avail of alternative livelihood and subsidy cash grants while the qualified children of TeamBRE volunteers can get educational assistance.
“Next year, the training program will be replicated in all coastal towns throughout the Bicol region,” according to Macenas.
The training activity has other components that include creating awareness and educating TeamBRE volunteers, especially on the underlying causes of the drug abuse problem and its ill effects.
Parenting and life skills in promoting a drug-free home and community are included in the training to help enhance the capability of the volunteers and their families.
Macenas said the training program will also organize and mobilize the TeamBRE volunteers and their families so there would be consolidated efforts in support of the program and of families-at-risk.
She added the training will help promote and strengthen Filipino family values that uphold the importance of “family ties, unity and growth.”
DSWD-Bicol Director Arnel Garcia said the role of TeamBRE volunteers is very important in terms of providing a support system for affected families in the communities.
He said the challenge in the country in the fight against illegal drugs is the insufficient number of facilities that could accommodate drug users and pushers or surrenderees submitting for rehabilitation.
Garcia told the DSWD-Bicol field officers that their participation in the TeamBRE program is to help the drug users and pushers.
“Dapat ipakita sa kanila na mayroon pa ring community na tatangap sa kanila para magbago,”(So they (the drug users and pushers) will be motivated to change it should be shown to them that there is still a community that is willing to accept them) he said.
Garcia said not all drug users and pushers need rehabilitation but instead need guidance from the community.
He explained that if a surrendered drug user is a member of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, popularly known as 4Ps--the government’s poverty alleviation program, there is no reason to cancel or remove them in the list of beneficiaries.
“Kapag ginawa natin yun mas maapiktuhan ang buong pamilya na dapat ay bigyan natin na suporta.” (When we do that the entire family, which we have to support, will all the more be affected) (PNA) FPV/GVR/MDR/CBD