Chiz urges Tesda to create programs for ex-druggies

August 1, 2023 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 197 views

SEN. Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Tuesday said he wanted to ensure that the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will have training and livelihood programs solely for former drug dependents who have undergone rehabilitation.

Presiding over a meeting of the Senate Committee on Higher, Technical, and Vocational Education, Escudero was surprised to learn that TESDA does not have exclusive livelihood and training programs catering to rehabilitated drug users but only prioritizes them in the agency’s existing programs.

“If we will institutionalize TESDA’s training and livelihood programs for rehabilitated drug dependents, we might as well design something that will specifically cater to them,” Escudero said during the discussion of Senate Bill 2115 and its counterpart House Bill 7721 that both seek to institutionalize technical-vocational education and training (TVET) and livelihood programs for former drug dependents.

TESDA representative Joyce Balong confirmed before the committee chair that at present, the government body only prioritizes former drug users in their existing livelihood and training programs.

The chairperson then ordered the consolidation of the two bills and referred them to a technical working group (TWG) that will specify the training or livelihood programs exclusively for rehabilitated or former drug dependents.

Escudero also instructed the TWG to take into account the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)/Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) of the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB) with various government bodies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and TESDA in formulating the tailored-fit programs.

He further wants possible additional functions for CHED in the institutionalization of these programs in support of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 that acknowledges the need for sustainable programs for the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals who have fallen victim to drug abuse or dangerous drug dependence.

According to TESDA, almost 9,000 former drug dependents were awarded scholarships in 2021, with more than 8,000 of them successfully completing various courses initiated by the TVET program.