Mervin Gascon


MERVIN GASCON is associate professor at the College of Development Management and concurrently the Director of the Extension Division at the University of Southeastern Philippines in Davao City. He took his PhD (Social Sciences) at Flinders University of South Australia under the Australia Development Awards. His research and publication focus on the application of critical systemic thinking and participatory action planning in democracy, governance and development studies.

Life After Tokhang: Voluntary Submission for Reformation Persons (VSRP) in Davao City

The Sagop Kinabuhi Program 2 or SKP2 is a university-led extension program partnered directly with the Archdiocese of Davao through the Archdiocesan Social Action Center (ASAC). The goal of the program is to help provide opportunities to former drug dependents in the city to become functional and productive individuals once again. In the program, we call them Voluntary Submission for Reformation Persons (VSRPs).

Using a holistic approach, SKP2 endeavors to help the VSRPs gain back their self-respect and self-confidence through the various pathways we designed with them to enhance their skills and capabilities. We believe that addressing the issues confronting our VSRPs require systemic approach wherein we challenge ourselves as program implementers to undertake series of inquiries to know what are the problems and the proposed solutions based on the voice, choice and agency of the VSRPs (Gascon, 2016; Gascon & McIntyre-Mills, 2016). While it is true that we, program implementers and professionals, believe that the realities and the living conditions of the VSRPs are unique and that our knowledge as experts does not necessarily fit well with their needs as individuals, still we would like to address the ‘individual capabilities’ (Nussbaum, 2011; Sen, 1999) needs of the VSRPs by providing them better access to trainings and education opportunities for them to become productive individuals in our society. SKP2 serves as a democratic space upon which program implementers as well as the community leaders, VSRPs, and their families are coming together as a platform to address the issues related to drug dependency, poverty, and vulnerability.