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Reforming drug users clean up river to support tourism in Palawan town

Reforming drug users clean up river to support tourism in Palawan town
By Celeste Anna R. Formoso
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY (Philippines News Agency) –- A group of reforming illegal drug users, who voluntarily surrendered under President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s nationwide fight against illegal drugs, cleaned up a river in the municipality of San Vicente in northern Palawan to help in its flourishing tourism industry.

Ma. Teresa Acda, team leader of the provincial government of Palawan’s community-based recovery undertaking Community Enhancement and Livelihood Project (CELP) for reforming illegal drug users, said this Monday to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

She said that 151 reforming drug dependents, who underwent the 14-week CELP training, are now helping in cleaning up Inandeng River in Barangay New Agutaya, San Vicente as part of their community-based rehabilitation activity and to help in the thriving of the municipal tourism industry.

“It’s a beautiful river… after you do the paddle boat tour, you go directly to the sea in Long Beach. It’s so beautiful, and our CELP participants helped in cleaning it by removing unwanted debris that impedes continues flow of paddle boat tours. Right now, it’s passable without hindrance,” she said.

Inandeng River, which sits nearby the popular Long Beach in San Vicente, is slowly attaining fame in the said municipality for its lush mangrove cover that can be toured by small paddle boats or kayaks.

Acda described it as a river that has so many to offer like a floating restaurant, which the first graduates of the community-based rehabilitation project CELP can help develop as a livelihood activity.

“They cleaned it, and they were supported by a private individual, the owner of Farmbelle, by giving them snacks,” she disclosed. Farmbelle Park is a resort in Purok Maligaya, New Agutaya owned by businesswoman Annabelle Dimaapi.

She said this is what they are targeting – to connect the CELP group of 151 rehabilitated drug dependents with livelihood opportunities that are tourism-related, and that can be supported by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office’s (PSWDO) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) cash-for-work program, as well as the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) livelihood assistance.

“We’re looking at the possibility of a floating restaurant livelihood activity for them, and a scooter rental in San Vicente,” Acda said, adding they are now working with the PSWDO and the DSWD for cash assistance of Php2,000.00 for the CELP participants that have completed the 14 weeks community service.

She said that with 151 CELP graduates in San Vicente, they can receive up to Php300,000.00 for the proposed floating restaurant project since the fund “will be handled by the group and not by the individual.”

This means the first CELP batch will have its own officers to handle the funds, and they will be guided by their team, Acda said. (PNA)#REALNUMBERS

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