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Cardinal Tagle inks deal with int'l drug rehab farm

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle signed an agreement with Fazenda da Esperança, an international drug rehabilitation farm, to boost the Archdiocese of Manila's drug rehabilitation program.

Tagle signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with one of Fazenda da Esperança's founders, Father Hans Stapel, during the "Day of Hope" Mass at the Manila Cathedral on Sunday, January 8.

Masbate Bishop Jose Bantolo witnessed the signing, while Interior Undersecretary John Castriciones represented the government.

"Every life has hope," Tagle said, echoing the theme of the Day of Hope on Sunday. (READ: Cardinal Tagle: 'No person will be discarded by Jesus')

Stapel added that "Jesus is stronger than drugs."

In the Philippines, Fazenda da Esperança is already found in Barangay Bangad, Milagros, Masbate, and Barangay Carolina, Naga City.

The rehabilitation farm was first established in São Paulo, Brazil, and now has communities in Mozambique and European countries.

'Escape from darkness'

Father Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, said the MOA between the Archdiocese of Manila and Fazenda da Esperança aims to create "a Sanlakbay Fazenda therapeutic community and healing center in the Archdiocese of Manila."

Sanlakbay is the Church-run drug rehabilitation program of Caritas Manila, which began on October 23, 2016.

The MOA signing comes as President Rodrigo Duterte wages a war on drugs that has already killed more than 6,200 people. 

In a brief message, Stapel said Fazenda da Esperança wants to open more shelters in the Philippines to help rehabilitate drug users.

Stapel said through a translator: "Gusto kong sabihin sa bawat kabataan na 'wag kayong matakot na umalis sa kadiliman. Posibleng lumabas tayo sa kadiliman kasi si Hesus ay mas malakas pa sa droga." 

(I want to tell all young people not to be afraid to escape from darkness. It is possible to escape from the darkness because Jesus is stronger than drugs.) – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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