PDEA, QC gov’t join hands in providing shelter for solvent-sniffing street kids

Published March 25, 2019, 1:43 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Chito Chavez 

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Quezon City government forged an agreement that will provide temporary shelter for rescued solvent-sniffing street children.

PDEA Dir Aaron Aquino speaks during a press conference at the PDEA headquarters in Quezon City, April 25 2018. (Mark BAlmores / MANILA BULLETIN)
PDEA Dir Aaron Aquino speaks (Mark Balmores / MANILA BULLETIN)

Monday’s simple Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino showed his soft heart as he took pity on these children.

“The sight of children sniffing solvent while roaming the country’s busy streets, and their engagement as runners and couriers in illegal drug activities have long been regarded as prevalent problems of society,’’ Aquino said.

With this, PDEA and the Quezon City Anti-Drug Abuse Advisory Council (QCADAAC) have sealed their partnership to help reform these children so that they become upright citizens in the future.

Aquino and Quezon City Vice Mayor and QCADAAC Chairperson Ma. Josefina “Joy” Belmonte formalized the agreement in a ceremony held at “Bahay Pangarap”, an outreach drug dependent rehabilitation shelter located inside Clemente Subdivision, Barangay San Agustin, Novaliches, Quezon City.

Under the MOU, the “Bahay Pangarap” building will be transformed into “Sagip Batang Solvent Reformation Center”, an initiative program of Aquino to keep children off the streets and away from being involved in illegal drug activities, and drug use.

Both parties agreed to work hand-in-hand, in collaborative partnerships with other organizations and government agencies to ensure the success of the program.
Among the objectives of Project “Sagip Batang Solvent” are to save children involved in illegal drug activities (CIIDs), provide shelter/facility to CIIDs, provide reformative and reintegrated interventions to CIIDs, develop resistance to drug use among CIIDs, and change CIIDs into becoming productive citizens.

“Sagip Batang Solvent Reformation Center” will serve as PDEA’s pilot residential reformation center for rescued solvent-inhaling street children.

The facility will be fully supported by the PDEA for a duration of one year, and will be offered for adoption by the local government unit (LGU) or non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Aquino said the shelter will also act as the model facility for other cities and municipalities throughout the country to cater to CIIDs in their respective areas.

The Sagip Batang Solvent Reformation Center is a gender-segregated facility whose priority tenants are street children aged 10 years old and below.

It offers basic and special amenities which include bedrooms, mess hall, kitchen, comfort rooms, receiving and entertainment room, study room and library, multi-purpose hall, music room, training room, garden, playground, fence, service vehicle, and security and staff to manage the facility.

“Under the program, these children will be provided with reformative care and reintegrated interventions like education, counselling, and values formation, talent and skills development, livelihood and entrepreneurship training,” Aquino said, as he sees the project as one of the measures to prevent juvenile delinquency.

The PDEA chief added that education and skills trainings are permanent solutions to the problem of poor families as children are easily lured into illegal drug activities for lack of any decent means of livelihood. “It is about time we have a rescue program solely designed for children to keep them off the streets for good,” he said.

PDEA aspires for the establishment of “Batang Solvent’’ reformation centers in different localities nationwide.