Zumba, village jobs await drug ‘surrenderees’ in Mandaluyong
Change is more fun for surrendering drug dependents in Mandaluyong.
It was not just an early morning ritual for those who wanted to be fit. They are drug users and pushers, who committed to change, who will be required every 7 a.m. to attend Zumba sessions every Sunday with the regular Zumba addicts of the barangay (village).
On Wednesday, around 90 of the 93 drug pushers and users on the drug watchlist of Barangay Mabini-J Rizal in Mandaluyong City surrendered to Barangay chairwoman Angelina Tablan, Eastern Police District Director Senior Superintendent Romulo Sapitula and Mandaluyong City Police Chief Senior Superintendent Joaquin Alva.
Led by the National Capital Region Police (NCRPO) Fitness team leader PO1 Neil Dennis Zuniega, the “surrenderers” laughed and danced and grooved to the music as they stretched out their hands and shook their butts.
“It was fun. I enjoyed it. I have lost hope and seen life negatively, Malungkot ang buhay. (Life is lonely) but when I danced earlier, I realized there are things that can still be fun,” said Rodolfo Zamora who was into drugs since 2008.
“I wanted to change. I really want to. I hope this is really the start,” the 48-year-old construction worker and 8-year drug user added.
Zuniega said with Zumba and regular exercise, the surrenderers will be encouraged to change their lifestyle, eat the right kinds of food, and eventually set aside drugs by learning a new and productive hobby. The toxins inside their body, he added, will be released. “It’s a total lifestyle change not just abstinence to illegal drugs,” he said.
Sapitula said drug dependents need to perspire more, hence saunas and regular exercise are recommended for their recovery and change.
Sapitula announced on Wednesday an ultimatum on July 30 for all the drug users in the Eastern Police District. “It’s either wakasan nila ang droga or kami ang wawakas sa kanila. Gusto niyo na bang makita ang inyong pagwawakas (It’s either they stop using drugs or we’ll kill them. Do you want to see your death)?” Sapitula asked the surrenderers who responded with a resounding: “No!”
Sapitula said they will be more lenient with those who surrendered as they are considered victims. Sapitula added that the police will make sure those drug users who wanted to fight the police and retaliate could not do it.
Also on Wednesday, the police presented to the media and the surrenderers apprehended drug suspects in a buy-bust operation Tuesday night to send a strong message to people that they are serious in their drive against illegal drugs.
As of posting time, there are already 1053 people who surrendered in the entire Eastern Police District. The surrenderers shall be faithfully monitored by the barangay. Those will not attend the Zumba sessions will be visited by barangay workers, Alva said. After six months of rehabilitation, the drug victims will be tested again for drugs.
Tablan said all of the drug users and the 14 pushers on the drug watchlist surrendered on Wednesday and more drug users are expected to report to the barangay for change.
“The Zumba sessions will help the drug dependents as they will be forced to wake up in the morning and be productive,” Tablan said, a fanatic who started the practice of Zumba in the barangay. Tablan’s barangay was awarded as the Most Child-Friendly Model Barangay.
Aside from the regular exercise, those who surrendered will be given sure jobs for 10 days as workers in the barangays through the barangay and the Social Welfare Department’s Cash for Work Program. They will be paid P360 per day.
“It’s not just hope that we give the drug victims. We also give them trust. That they can be entrusted with work and that they can change,” barangay secretary Mauro Valeza said, emphasizing that change should be continuous, sustainable and that workers must remain patient. RAM
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