A PRIEST has expressed his intention to help the police in its Oplan Tokhang operations. If he had his way, Fr. Lamberto “Jun” Paradiang of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) wants to continue convincing drug users to reform. This, despite the call from the Archdiocese of Cebu for the priests not to join the Oplan Tokhang visits. Paradiang said his role as a priest is crucial in convincing the drug users in his parish to stop their illegal activities. Paradiang is the parish priest of Sto. Nino Parish, which serves the Catholics living in Barangays Suba and Pasil in Cebu City.
He also serves as rector of the Don Bosco Youth Center in Pasil. Having served the area for almost six months now, Paradiang said he hads been exposed to the drug situation in the two villages. “I often see it as I get out of the center. And for many in Suba and Pasil, it’s a reality,” he said. Last Tuesday, Paradiang accompanied the police in their Oplan Tokhang operation in Pasil and Suba. He said he didn’t feel any fear when he joined the activity. Paradiang said those they visited knew him. He was also familiar with them.
He then took the opportunity to talk to his parishioners about the Archdiocese’s community-based drug rehabilitation programs. “We know that the Archdiocese has successful drug rehabilitation programs like SuGod (Surrender to God) and Labang (Lahat Bangon), but how will our parishioners know about these programs if we don’t approach them and talk to them about it?” Paradiang said. The drug dependents under the SuGod program of the Archdiocese are treated in a facility in Liloan, while those of Labang are treated in a facility in Barangay Subangdaku, Mandaue City. Paradiang clarified, though, he had no intention to disobey Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma when he joined the police visits.
He said he plans to meet Palma and talk about his experience, and hopes he can convince him to allow the priests to join the Oplan Tokhang. Palma earlier discouraged the priests from joining the activity, saying it is not their calling. “I believe it is not for the interest of the people or for the Church, for that matter. Oplan Tokhang may have started with vested intention, but it has gained an unfortunate and bad reputation,” he said. He said the Church can help in the government’s fight against illegal drugs through its rehabilitation programs.