MAASIN CITY, May 15 (PIA) -- The city government here has partnered with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in efforts at changing the lives of drug pushers for the better through a facility called Balay Silangan.

“This is a reformation center for drug offenders, for pushers, patterned after Bahay Pagbabago of PDEA, where we conduct activities for about 1,000 plus (individuals), and we are trying to reform each one of them,” City Mayor Nacional Mercado said during the launching ceremony Wednesday.

Attending the launch were personnel from PDEA regional office led by Atty. Benjamin Gaspi, assistant regional director, who signed the MOA in behalf of Gilbert Buenafe, PDEA regional director.

Others present were City Vice Mayor Maloney Samaco, city councilors, heads of agencies from the national and provincial offices, as well as city offices that comprise the anti-drug abuse council.

Balay Silangan is located near the now popular, mostly frequented Bayview Park, a seaside haven within the city’s government center in barangay Combado.

The launching date coincided with the barangay fiesta celebration at a time when the city strictly implemented a supplemental executive order preventing outside fiesta goers from coming in as a way to stop the current spike in confirmed covid cases.

The building itself, whose construction was finished around second quarter last year, served as an alternate isolation house for covid-positive patients, Mayor Mercado revealed, adding that at the time of the launching, there were still occupants in the second floor.

“This is a great partnership of the PDEA and the city government, and this is also a requirement of the Dangerous Drugs Board,” Mayor Mercado also said.

As soon as the current dwellers would be out, and the building no longer utilized as alternate isolation unit, lectures, programs, and other related socio-economic interventions for drug surrenderers will be held at Balay Silangan, the mayor announced. (ldl/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)