02 November 2016

GENEVA – The Philippine government detailed to a United Nations (UN) committee its ongoing and planned programs as part of the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

“We must first recognize that there is popular support for the President’s campaign against illegal drugs as reflected in his decisive win at the polls in May 2016,” said NEDA Deputy Director-General Rosemarie G. Edillon during a dialogue with the United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights last September 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The initial campaign against illegal drugs has revealed the magnitude of the problem, one that has not been addressed, at least not with the scope and scale as to make it effective. But we are rectifying this now,” she added.

The Philippine National Police’s Oplan Tokhang has yielded close to a million drug surrenderees.

Edillon raised to the UN Committee that the Philippine health sector considers drug dependency as a health issue. Thus, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is convening different government agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs), and faith-based groups to address the problem of drug dependency by focusing on 3 pillars.

These are: (1) Identification and Classification of Drug Dependents to be led by the Department of Health, (2) Community-based Rehabilitation to be led by the Ugnayan ng Barangay at Simbahan NGO, and (3) Aftercare Reintegration and Transformation Support for Recovering Drug Dependents to be led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. These all fall within DILG’s Drug Rehabilitation Construction and Community-based Drug Rehabilitation Project.

Of the more than 700,000 who surrendered, it was noted that only less than 1 percent will need in-patient treatment and rehabilitation, and will be admitted to Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers. Two to 10 percent will go to outpatient facilities, while 90 percent will require community-based interventions.

“We must deal with the drug problem through rehabilitation, reformation, and reintegration,” said DDG Edillon.

The national government is starting to construct large-capacity rehabilitation centers around the country. Local government units have also begun restoring existing but neglected drug rehabilitation facilities.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has increased resources for the implementation of an alternative learning system that will shepherd drug addicts back to the educational system, and provide them more options for human development. DepEd is also developing modules in schools’ curricula to incorporate awareness of the drug problem in the country.

The Philippine Sports Commission is introducing large-scale sports development programs for drug users and pushers who surrendered.

Religious groups and other faith-based organizations have also volunteered to help in the reformation process. “Our church, for instance, has mobilized 5,000 volunteers who are now undergoing training to be counselors,” added Edillon, who headed the Philippine delegation to Geneva.

“All these programs will be incorporated in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, under the component, Enhancing the Social Fabric,” said Edillon.

“In short, I would say our government’s campaign on illegal drugs should be considered beyond the headlines. A lot of Filipinos, groups, and institutions like local and national governments see this as an opportunity to restore families that form the very fabric of our society,” Edillon said.

 

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