Northern Mindanao's first reform center for drug pushers opens

Roxanne Arevalo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2018 01:44 PM | Updated as of Sep 13 2018 01:46 PM

KAUSWAGAN, Lanao del Norte - The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and local officials here launched Northern Mindanao's first reformatory center for drug pushers on Thursday. 

Dubbed "Balay Silangan," the center offers a 3-month skills development program that aims to make its beneficiaries job-ready. 

"We'd like them here better than in prison. This is humanizing the President's drug war," PDEA 10 Director Wilkins Villanueva said. 

Only suspects caught with less than a gram of dangerous drugs may be admitted to the center. 

Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado committed to expand the center so it could cater to more drug suspects from Iligan City and neighboring towns. 

The government's anti-narcotics campaign has seen some 4,200 drug suspects killed and around 142,000 others arrested since 2016, according to police data released last April. 

The campaign has drawn widespread criticism for alleged state-sponsored killings, which the government has denied.