TO strengthen the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, Senator Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go filed at the start of the 18th Congress a legislative measure that seeks to establish a drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation center in every province nationwide.
“Nais natin na magkaroon ng mga drug rehabilitation centers ang bawat probinsya sa buong bansa. Ang mga centers na ito ang tutulong sa mga drug dependents upang magamot ang kanilang adiksyon at matulungan silang mamuhay ng normal muli,” Senator Go said, adding that the main objective of the centers is to provide care and attention for the recovery of drug dependents.
Senator Go believes that in the fight against the menace of illegal drugs, attention must also be directed towards the rehabilitation and recovery of its victims. Go also said that drug dependents can be considered victims of the drug trade.
According to Go, they are people who have been preyed upon by opportunistic crime syndicates seeking to take advantage of the downward spiral that inevitably takes place once drug addiction begins. Thus, drug dependents should also be treated as victims in dire need of medical, psychological and spiritual help, with a chance of being successfully reintegrated into society as reformed, healthy and productive citizens.
“Habang walang humpay ang kampanya natin kontra sa mga kriminal na sangkot sa mga drug-related na krimen at sa mga sindikatong involved sa illegal drug trade, kailangan din nating tulungan at sagipin ang mga drug dependents na naging biktima ng kanilang adiksyon sa bawal na gamot,” Go said.
Under Senate Bill No. 399, otherwise known as an “Act Providing for the Establishment and Support of a Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Every Province Throughout the Philippines and Appropriating Funds Therefor”, one drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation center shall be established in every province under the supervision of the Department of Health (DOH). If passed into law, the center will be tasked to provide care, treatment, and accommodation to persons found to be drug dependents.
According to the senator, the objective of the centers is to bring a drug-dependent person to a state where he is physically, psychologically, and socially capable of coping with problems common to his peer group. These centers will also facilitate and encourage the dissemination and exchange of ideas and information on the prevention, care, treatment and control of drug addiction.
Likewise, Senator Go said that each center will be tasked to provide after-care, follow-up, and social reintegration services to enable a drug dependent to adjust to family and community life after release. The centers shall be required to provide each drug dependent the motivation to regain self-confidence, rediscover his working abilities, and develop a sense of responsibility for himself.
As stated in SB 399 filed by Go, the sum necessary for the effective implementation of the proposed measure shall be initially charged against the appropriations for the DOH under the annual General Appropriations Act. Thereafter, such amount as may be necessary for the continued operation of the Centers shall be included in the GAA for the succeeding years.
Go stressed that since the Duterte administration started cracking down on illegal drugs, the number of drug surrenderers has also increased. Recognizing the need to provide a caring environment for drug users willing to be treated and rehabilitated, President Duterte issued Executive Order No. 4 last October 11, 2016.
The order provides for the establishment of drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers in military establishments. The task force created by this EO determines the location of these centers, taking into consideration the suitability and needs of the locality. Go’s proposed measure seeks to further enhance and institutionalize this goal.
According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), there are an estimated 4 million drugs users in the country. More than 1.4 million of them have already surrendered during the first half of the term of President Duterte and are said to be willing to rehabilitate themselves.
“Marami na pong gustong magbagong-buhay. Bigyan natin sila ng tamang atensyon upang maitama ang kanilang mga mali at maisaayos ang kanilang buhay para sa kapakanan ng kanilang mga pamilya,” he said.
Go also narrated that through his visits to various poor communities around the country to listen to the concerns of ordinary Filipinos, he was able to hear different stories of how illegal drugs destroyed the lives and families of drug users and also how some of them have been able to reform themselves and rebuild their lives.