‘Balay Silangan’ Reformation Center opens in San Simon

San Simon, Pampanga— A community-based reformation center known as “Balay Silangan” (House of Hope) that will rehabilitate drug offenders was formally opened here yesterday.

Mayor Leonora Wong disclosed the reformation center was constructed through the P3 million given to the municipality by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as their reward for being a recipient of the Seal of Good Local Governance’s (SGLG) performance challenge fund.

Wong said the LGU here augmented at least P2 million as counterpart and for the completion of the Balay Silangan.

She clarified the DILG turned over the center to the San Simon LGU and subsequently, they gave it to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for the reformation of drug offenders into self-sufficient and law-abiding members of society.

To formalize the turnover, the San Simon LGU led by Mayor Wong and PDEA led by Director General Aaron Aquino represented by incoming PDEA Deputy Director General for Administration Col. Ricardo Santiago signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA), witnessed by DILG Provincial Director Myrvi Fabia and other officials.

Under the agreement, the PDEA will act as the enforcement arm of the Bahay Silangan program; provide education on Republic Act 9165; provide training on preventive education and community involvement.

While the LGU ensure that its Anti-Drug Abuse Council adopt the program of instruction and conduct livelihood programs and other concerns plus continuing employment opportunity.

“The reformation program for the reformists is not new to the Simonians as the LGU and the religious sector here initiated the implementation of “Bahay Pagbabago” prior to the establishment of Balay Silangan through the combined efforts of the law enforcers, religious sector plus the cooperation of the ordinary people of the town,” Mayor Wong said.

Wong said the establishment of Balay Silangan strengthens the town’s intention to make this town free from all forms of illegal drugs and reform the drug users into worthwhile and productive members of the community.

The mayor said the LGU here cannot do anything without the support of all the stakeholders in the municipality.

“The mayor cannot do it alone. Projects and programs are being accomplished because of you and I. ‘Ikayu at aku ing aslag ning balen’ (You and I are the light of the town”), the mayor said.

“The Balay Silangan Reformation Center welcomes with open arms drug offenders who aspire a renewed life and have chosen to be on the side of the government rather than help peddle illegal drugs in the streets,” Santiago said.

Santiago added the Balay Silangan Reformation Center will impart values formation, livelihood training and social norms in preparation for the reintegration of the reformist with the common public. Also, the life coaching skills training will prevent them from returning to their old ways.

He also stressed that they value life and they want the former drug offenders to have the opportunity to rehabilitate, to regain their dignity and place in the society.

Others who attended the opening of Balay Silangan were PSSupt. Nicola Supan Salvador, Glenn Guillermo, PDEA-PIO, CInsp Louie Gonzaga, chief of police, members of the Sangguniang Bayan and barangay officials. –Joel Mapiles

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