SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go reminded the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) during the Senate Committee on Finance budget hearing of both agencies to maximize existing drug rehabilitation facilities to give drug dependents willing to be rehabilitated a chance to reform themselves.
With a total of 54 rehabilitation centers, nineteen of which are operated by the Department of Health (DOH), private rehabilitation centers, and a combined 5,300 bed capacity in all existing centers in the country, Go asked the concerned agencies what further steps they should do in order to fully utilize the rehabilitation centers on top of the community-based rehabilitation method.
“Sayang oh, 5,000 (capacity) automatic,” Go said. “Anong participation ng DDB or ng PDEA po dito sa mga rehab centers in running and sa operations?”
During the hearing on the 2020 budget of PDEA and DDB on Monday, Go asked PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino what support could the Senate provide to further strengthen and maximize the existing drug rehabilitation facilities provided by the government.
Go sought to know the reason behind reports of low occupancy, while urging the agencies to be more steadfast in encouraging drug dependents to register and rehabilitate themselves through the facilities offered by the government.
“Ano update sa mga rehab centers natin sa ngayon sa Nueva Ecija, sa Las Piñas, sa Bukidnon? Parang ‘yung occupancy, talagang way below our expectations,” Go asked addressing Aquino.
“Sayang ang mga facilities natin doon, hindi lang natin masyadong (nagagamit) like Bukidnon, malaki ang nagastos, Nueva Ecija, Las Piñas, maganda ‘ung pinapagawa ni Sen. Villar,” Go added.
Aquino promptly answered the senator that the best rehabilitation method for illegal drug dependents is a community-based treatment. The PDEA chief also noted that it is hard for many drug dependents to enroll in such facility mainly because of the distance from their families.
Go, however, believes that when drug dependents want to change for the better, they will enroll in these centers regardless of proximity.
“Usually, kung gustong magpa-rehabilitate nung adik, talagang dinadayo nila, tulad nung may kapasidad na magbayad ng mga private care, dinadala talaga nila sa mga isolated areas, tulad ng Bukidnon, Nueva Ecija. Kung sino talaga gustong magpa-rehab, pwede naman kung gusto talaga,” Go refuted.
“Papaano natin makukumbinsi itong mga adik na magparehab sila, eh malalayo sila? ‘Yung sinasabing community-based rehabilitation, kulang ‘yung mga ginagawang rehabilitation kung community-based. Babalik pa rin yung mga adik,” Go said, emphasizing the need for the government to also put priority to improving community-based rehab programs nationwide.
Go assured the representatives of PDEA and DDB of his unwavering support to the country’s drug rehabilitation program and its goal of giving drug dependents another chance at a meaningful life.
“Full support po kami dito sa Senado. Ako ay sumusuporta sa inyo. May pakiusap lang po ako sa inyo, ‘yung drug lords ang unahin natin. Sila ‘yung nagsu-supply. Pangalawa, ‘yung mga gustong magbagong buhay, tulungan natin na ma-maximize ang mga rehab (centers). Sila rin ay biktima. Kawawa naman. Marami pa naman gustong magbagong buhay. Tulungan natin sila,” Go said.
Moreover, Go asked Aquino if funds of the agency are still sufficient for a reward system for agents and operatives who detain drug dependents.
Aquino answered that there are two reward systems. “One is the Project Private Eye for perseverance to those who can give us good information and turned out to have successful operations, and the other one is a reward for law enforcement agents who can give successful operations and big seizures of drugs,” Aquino explained.
To strengthen the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, Go filed during 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 nang normal muli,” Go said, adding that the main objective of rehab centers is to provide care and attention for the recovery of drug dependents.
“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 in past statements.
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”, a 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 drug dependents.