MANILA - In this hard-up community in Caloocan where drug addiction was rampant, Carina Cruz, 26, knew it was just a matter of time before masked men riding in tandem went after her.
A known drug user, Cruz was included in the police watchlist, which she saw as her death warrant. Several people she knew had already been killed, execution-style.
"Binigyan kami ng 24 hours para sumuko, para linisin yung pangalan namin," she told ABS-CBN News.
"Dito samin pag namatay sa 'tokhang,' hindi pinaglalamayan dahil natatakot mga tao."
Fearing for her life, she went to Fr. Luciano Felloni, the local parish's Tagalog-speaking Argentine priest, in late 2016.
'HEALING, NOT KILLING'
Felloni, 43, runs a parish-based rehabilitation program that shows another approach to the drug problem: healing, not killing.
"You can change, you can have a better life," he told ABS-CBN News.
"Ang buhay mo na kapit sa patalim ay talagang matatapos sa masama. Kung hindi ka papatayin ng sindikato, papatayin ng riding in tandem, papatayin ka ng droga."
Cruz and her husband were among the first batch of "graduates" of the rehabilitation program brought about by the rampant killings in Camarin, Caloocan since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his bloody war on drugs.
Those "desperate to live" sought refuge in Felloni's Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, which tends to some of the most drug-infested communities in the city.
Felloni teamed up with private sector volunteers and the local government for an intensive seven-month program.
From Monday to Saturday, trained counsellors and psychologists would gather drug users, providing professional help on how to kick the habit.
Volunteer students from the University of Santo Tomas helped Cruz and her group start a soap-making business under the label "Ahon" (recovery). It provided them with a steady income while undergoing rehabilitation.
A psychiatric evaluation at the end of the program is sent to city hall and the Philippine National Police, which then decides whether or not to delist a participant.
"Yun lang talaga yung gusto ko, yung matanggal yung pangalan namin kasi talagang sobrang delikado," said Cruz, who got her two certificates last March.
"Pero dito sa simbahan, ang laking bagay na may naniniwala pa pala sa'yo... pinaramdam samin, especially sa akin, na kaya kong magbago. Hindi pa huli ang lahat."