(PAGASA 24-HOUR PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST as of Tuesday, 05 March 2024) Northeast Monsoon affecting Luzon. Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms due to Easterlies/Localized Thunderstorms. Possible flash floods or landslides during severe thunderstorms. Moderate to strong winds coming from Northeast to East will prevail with moderate to rough seas (1.2 to 2.8 meters).


Tuesday, 5 December 2023

Survivors on illegal drugs inspire SK officials to support advocacy

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

Two illegal drug survivors in the Caraga region who are now government workers shared how they suffered for years on illegal drugs, yet they survived from addiction, and encouraged the newly-elected Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials to intensify the campaign against illegal drugs and help those who seek assistance or rehabilitation in their respective barangays.

Joyji Dumaplin, special operations officer of City Health Office-Butuan, recalled that at 12 years old, he was already exposed to smoking and later got hooked on other vices like drinking alcohol, marijuana, and tried illegal drugs. He said he became an illegal drug dependent for several years, making his relationship with his parents and his own family miserable as they suffered a lot from his addiction.

“My relationship with my family then was not good. I got separated from my wife and kids because I was not a good husband and father to them. I failed to provide for their needs. I was insensitive to them because I was addicted to illegal drugs,” he said. 

Until 2011, Dumaplin became one of the targets of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and was apprehended by the operatives led by Jose Ramon Miguel Zaraspe IV, who currently serves as the assistant provincial officer of PDEA-Agusan del Norte, and the project supervisor of “Adbokasiya Laban sa Iligal na Droga.” 

A few months later, Dumaplin was released from jail, but the vice of illegal drugs continued.

“It was in 2015 when PDEA caught me for the second time and got me stuck in jail for five years and four months. At that time, I realized I didn’t want to be alone within the four corners of the cell. I felt I had to do something to help myself and stop the addiction. It was never really easy, yet everything is possible when you have God with you. I was able to control myself until, five years later, I got my liberty and underwent rehab for 10 months. Now, I am clean and sober,” said Dumaplin.

Dumaplin also stressed that he was really thankful for all the experiences that taught him great lessons in life. If not for the efforts of PDEA that transformed him from  addiction, he thought he could have been killed or gotten into more trouble, especially during the administration of former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, wherein the government’s campaign against illegal drugs was intensified.

“I am here standing in front of you because I want to encourage you to live a life away from vices that could destroy your future. As SK officials, I believe you are called to save others from this menace. By creating and supporting policies, programs, and activities for the welfare of the youth, you could help them cope with life’s challenges. I am rooting for all of you; continue to do your best to serve the public,” expressed Dumaplin.

Meanwhile, Tristan Amante, project development officer of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) - Agusan del Norte, also shared his experiences and encouraged the youth to accept the things in life that they have no control over. 

“I started using illegal drugs when I was seventeen years old due to curiosity. I easily get curious about things; that's why I always get into them. I kept my addiction to myself for many years. When my family knew about it, they never neglected me; instead they gave me their due attention and helped me in any way possible. However, I was still quite in denial. I felt like everything in me was normal, and I was okay. It was in November 2014 when I was nabbed by PDEA for using illegal drugs, which was kind of insulting to my sister, who happened to be an employee of PDEA,” recounted Amante.

“I also felt the dismay of my family. I really felt sorry for them and for myself. In 2015, I made a strong and mature decision to undergo rehab. I also started reading the Bible while inside the rehab center. After rehab, for five years I was unemployed, yet I was able to recover fully and was given the chance to work in the government service. Our past experiences do not define us as people and would never make us less. The least that we can do is accept the past and move on,” Amante added.

Hearing all these testimonies during an orientation on the ALAB program, PDEA-Agusan del Norte provincial officer Emerson Joshua Santiago expressed his appreciation to Dumaplin and Amante for their bravery and inspiration to all the youth, especially the SK officials who play a vital role in their respective communities. 

“PDEA will continue to strengthen its efforts and initiatives to save more lives from illegal drugs and will help the youth achieve their dreams and aspirations. To all our SK officials, be equipped and educated as well on the Barangay Drug Clearing Program (BDCP) and be advocates of a drug-free community,” remarked Santiago. (JPG, PIA-Caraga)