THE Region 1 Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Barangay Bonuan Binloc in Dagupan partially opened on December 2 and is now ready to treat outpatients.
Undersecretary Elmer Punzalan, chief of the DOH Special Concerns Department, led the inauguration of the facility along with former House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., his wife Pangasinan Fourth District Rep. Gina de Venecia, and Atty. Gonzalo Duque, who represented Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chairman Antonio Villar Jr.
A groundbreaking and laying of time capsule for the construction of the dormitory and recreation facilities was also held.
The dormitory and recreation facilities for 300 in-patients are set to be completed next year.
The rehab center, the first government-owned drug treatment and rehab facility north of Manila operated by the Department of Health (DOH) through the Region 1 Medical Center (R1MC), is open to patients with drug problems in Region 1, and the Cordillera and Cagayan Valley.
The new center was patterned after the Bicutan, Taguig and Tagaytay City drug rehab centers in the country.
Dr. Joseph Mejia, R1MC chief, said the medical staff assigned at the treatment and rehab center underwent rigid training at the drug rehab center in Bicutan.
Former Speaker De Venecia was instrumental in starting the construction of the facility four years ago by allocating P16 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund for the construction of the center’s administration building and to recover the six-hectare government lot where the defunct Teodora Manaois Memorial Hospital was located.
De Venecia’s wife Gina, who took over as congresswoman of the Fourth District, secured a P50 million allocation in the 2012 national budget for the completion of all the needed facilities in the center.
Ambassador Miguel Perez Rubio, an anti-drug advocate, former protocol officer of President Corazon Aquino and now for President Benigno Aquino III, supported the establishment of the center.
Rubio pledged to bring to the attention of the President the need to complete the project soon.