Forced rehab crucial in drug war -- solon

November 17, 2019

A HOUSE leader on Sunday urged Vice President Leni Robredo “to destroy the demand for illegal drugs by sending as many abusers as possible to compulsory rehabilitation.”

“There are two sides to the drug problem – the supply side and the demand side. We have to suppress both sides at once if we are to succeed in the war on drugs,” said Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, who chairs the House Committee on Public Accounts.

Defensor, vice chairperson of the House health committee, called for “sweeping demand reduction strategies” that include hard-hitting preventive education drives to discourage new drug users, and greater access to government-subsidized rehabilitation services for existing abusers.

“In other countries, demand reduction is a proven approach in cutting down supply. With less abusers, supply also drops as the market for drugs shrinks,” Defensor pointed out.

Citing figures from the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), Defensor said that in 2018 alone, only 5,447 abusers were admitted to 54 public and private residential and outpatient treatment facilities.

“We have a multitude of abusers. Yet, only a few of them are undergoing either voluntary or compulsory rehabilitation,” Defensor said.

“Our strategy with respect to abusers should be: You either go to rehab, or you go to jail,” Defensor said.

At present, Defensor said the country has “extremely limited” public drug treatment centers, with just one or two in every region.

In the P4.1-trillion 2020 budget, Defensor said the Department of Health is getting only P1.18 billion for the operation of 21 rehabilitation facilities nationwide.

“Considering how bad our drug problem is, we should have at least one rehabilitation center in every province,” Defensor said.

“Around Metro Manila, where there is a high concentration of abusers, we should have several treatment hubs,” Defensor said.