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Go urges full use of gov’t drug rehab facilities

Sen. Christopher Lawrence Go at the Senate budget hearing conducted on Monday, Sept. 17, 2019. (Photo from his office)

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged on Monday the full use of drug rehabilitation facilities with the active participation of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) in their operation.

Go made the call during the hearing conducted by Senate Committee on Finance on the 2020 budget of both PDEA and DDB.

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According to a statement he issued after the hearing, the Philippines has 54 rehabilitation centers, 19 of which are operated by the Department of Health (DOH). The centers have combined bed capacity 5,300 — which if not used would just go to waste.

“Anong participation ng DDB or ng PDEA po dito sa mga rehab centers in operations?”

[What’s the participation of the DDB and PDEA in the operations of these rehab centers?]

Go asked PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino about what support the Senate could provide to further strengthen and maximize the drug rehabilitation facilities of the government.

Go wanted to know the reason behind reports of low occupancy of the rehab centers

“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 Aquino. “Sayang ang mga facilities natin doon, hindi lang natin masyadong [nagagamit]

[What’s the update on the rehab centers in Nueva Ecija? In Las Piñas? In Bukidnon? It seems their occupancy is way below our expectations. Our facilities there are going to waste. They’re hardly being used.]

Aquino promptly answered the senator that the best rehabilitation method for drug dependents would be a community-based treatment.

He also noted that many drug dependents were reluctant to enroll facilities that would too far from where their families lived.

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Go then said: “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.”

[Usually, an addict who really wants to be rehabilitated would take the trouble to travel far. And those who could pay for private care would bring dependents to isolated areas – like Bukidnon and Nueva Ecija. Whoever wants to be rehabilitated, if they really want to, would do it.]

“Kulang ‘yung mga ginagawang rehabilitation kung community-based. Babalik pa rin yung mga adik,” Go said.

He then urged the government to also put priority om improving community-based rehab programs nationwide.

Go assured PDEA and DDB representatives of his unwavering support for the drug rehabilitation program.

“Full support po kami dito sa Senado,” he said. “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.”

[We here at the Senate give you our full support. I support you. I just have a request: Let’s go after the drug lords first. They are suppliers. Second, let’s help those who want to start a new life by maximizing the use of these rehab centers. They are victims. Have pity on them. There are many who would want to change their lives. Let’s help them.

Go asked Aquino if PDEA still had sufficient funds for a reward system for agents and operatives who detain drug dependents.

Aquino answered that there were 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,” he said.

To strengthen the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, Go filed during the start of the 18th Congress a measure that seeks to establish a drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation center in every province nationwide.

Under Senate Bill No. 399 — 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 would be established in every province under the supervision of the Department of Health (DOH).

/atm

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