Sanlakbay (One Journey) is a pastoral accompaniment program for drug dependents toward healing, recovery and restoration. It aims to transform lives, restore human dignity and reintegrate them back to their communities to live a purpose-driven, goal-directed, decent and meaningful life.
Responding to the call and mission to help our brothers and sisters whose lives have been mired by illegal drugs, the SANLAKBAY Program traces its humble beginnings from a series of raw, but purposeful and determined consultative meetings, initially among the clergy, religious, and the laity active in church service. The call of the Holy Spirit for the Church to help bring the “healing presence of Christ to a wounded humanity” was palpable. Saying YES to this mission’s call is the most important step.
“It takes a village to raise a child,” and it will take the whole community to help a person recover from drug addiction. The problem of drug addiction is not just a medical concern. It involves the totality of an individual together with his family and entire community. Thus, to address the current situation, the Archdiocese engages into a community-based rehabilitation program to bring together resources from the community, based in the parishes to assist the “surrenderers” in the journey towards rehabilitation, healing and restoration.
Brief Background of Sanlakbay Program
In June of 2016 when President Rodrigo Duterte took office, there have been plans by Caritas Manila to set up a facility-based rehabilitation center.
However, after a series of collaborative meetings with multisector stakeholders, and realizing that it will take some time to plan, and years to comply to mandatory regulatory requirements to set up a facility-based rehabilitation center, it was agreed that a Community-Based Rehabilitation Program (CBRP) is the appropriate intervention approach to take.
In August of 2016, the Archdiocese of Manila through the leadership of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle with Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual, Executive Director of Caritas Manila responded to the challenge.
A Community-Based Recovery Program (CBRP) in the form of a collaborative ministry called “SANLAKBAY” (One Journey) was formed through Fr. Roberto De la Cruz of Restorative Justice Ministry, appointed by Cardinal Tagle as Sanlakbay’s Program Minister.
The Church need to take a major step in addressing the gap between the number of drug dependents to be served, and the availability and access to rehabilitative interventions.
Committed and continuous participation in collaborative meetings with multisector stakeholders since 2016 certainly helped in identifying and mapping out appropriate intervention approach for the church to take.
The series of talks and coordination with the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Local Government (DILG), PNP (Philippine National Police, and Dangerous Drug Board (DDB), the main government implementing arm, led to the cooperation of Church and State.
The Sanlakbay Program was officially launched on October 23, 2016 with a Holy Mass by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at the Manila Cathedral, Intramuros Manila.
Annah Maree Revelleza
Fr. Roberto Dela Cruz
Asst. Program Coordinator