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China-funded drug rehab center opens in Agusan Sur

BRANDNEW The P370-million China-funded drug rehabilitation and treatment center,which opened on Monday at Barangay Alegria in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur province, is the biggest in the Caraga region. —CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday inaugurated the China-funded 150-bed drug treatment and rehabilitation center, considered the largest in Caraga and the second to be put up in the region.

The center occupies nearly half of the 6,600-square-meter property donated by the provincial government in Barangay Alegria at the foot of Mt. Diwata.

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Designed according to Chinese engineering concepts, the P370-million center will cater to at least 100 male and 50 female patients severely addicted to drugs.

It has eight buildings for men’s and women’s dormitories, a staff house, administration and admission offices, a visitors’ pavilion, an annex structure, a covered court and a guardhouse.

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Operational by September

Thirty-five Chinese engineers and technicians, and 320 Filipino workers built the center in just a year.

Once it starts operation this September, the drug rehabilitation center will engage the services of 50 doctors, medical specialists, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses and other health workers, with a monthly operational budget of P12 million.

Job applicants are now being screened for hiring and training, according to Dr. Jose Llacuna, health regional director.

Jin Yuan, economic and commercial counselor at the Chinese Embassy, lauded the center as the first turnkey government-to-government project completed under the Duterte administration.

In November 2016, a Chinese businessman donated a massive 10,000-bed rehabilitation and treatment center built on a 100,000-sq-m property in Nueva Ecija province.

Confessed former addict

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Agusan del Sur Gov. Adolph Edward Plaza said the newly inaugurated center would absorb the residential treatment and rehabilitation facility inside the 401st Army Brigade camp and the Outpatient Drop-in Center on the provincial capitol grounds. Both are run by the provincial government.

“The dream has come into reality. It took the will of the people of China and the Philippines to achieve this,” said Plaza, a confessed former drug addict who started the Substance Use Recovery and Enlightenment (SURE) program for drug dependents.

He said local residents would be given priority for admission to the center, but patients from neighboring provinces in the region and Compostela Valley could also avail themselves of its services.

“Everyone has the right [to] a better future, even [drug dependents], so let us not fail them,” Llacuna said.

Caraga’s first drug rehabilitation center was built in 2010 in Surigao City. The P40-million 50-bed men-only structure sits on a 40-hectare lot donated by the city government.

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TAGS: China-funded drug rehab center, war on drugs
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