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Robredo discusses community-based rehab programs with UNODC reps

With 90 percent of drug dependents in the country classified as slight or occasional drug users, Vice President Leni Robredo—in her capacity as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs—discussed how to improve community-based rehabilitation centers in her meeting with UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) representatives and other community-based advocacy groups.

“We have learned that 90 percent of the problem are those slight or occasional drug users lang and which community-based rehabilitation programs would suffice. Ten percent lang iyong kailangan ng institutional intervention, meaning iyong kailangan na in-patient. These are government records,” said Office of the Vice President Undersecretary Boyet Dy.

“Kaya ang naging focus nung usapan with UNODC ay iyong karanasan ng ating mga karatig bansa sa Southeast Asia, iyong best practices, at iyong gaps na puedeng tugunan at mapabuti,” Dy added.

Dy said Robredo and UNODC agreed to learn and build from the experiences in Southeast Asia.

“There was really emphasis on a public health approach; on how should it be given equal importance as with the law enforcement approach. Sinabi nga ni Vice President nung ICAD conference, gusto niya na integrated ang investment sa law enforcement and public health,” Dy added.

Dy, however, gave no other details on the discussions with the UNODC reps, explaining that some of the matters discussed were confidential in nature.

Robredo has earlier vowed that killing would not be a part of the implementation of the government’s anti-drug policy as long as she was co-chair of the ICAD.

Her co-chair and Director General Aaron Aquino of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, however, had argued that zero killings would be impossible given that drug suspects had been known to resist authorities.

At least 5,700 drug suspects had been killed under the police’s anti-drug operations, though the number did not include drug-related deaths committed by unidentified gunmen.

One rehab center per province

Robredo on Sunday lamented how the country had fallen short of its target of having one rehabilitation center per province.

On her weekly radio show, Robredo said the shortage of rehabilitation centers hindered drug dependents from seeking professional help.

“Alam naman natin na [sa] rehabilitation, kailangan ng participation ng mga pamilya. So kapag masyadong malayo iyong lugar [...] napakahirap para sa mga mahihirap na mag-biyahe iyong pamilya para mag-participate sa rehabilitation program,” she explained.

“Tinitingnan ngayon kung iyong existing ba na rehab centers, enough na. Tapos papaano iyong paggamit ng rehab centers kasi may mga existing din na rehab centers na ang occupancy, napakababa. So baka napakababa kasi hindi maayos.”

Ramping up efforts

The Department of Health department earlier said it was ramping up efforts for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependents.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the DOH had targeted the establishment of drug rehab centers in every region of the country.

"Our target is to ensure there is one TRC (treatment and rehabilitation center) for every region and we are on the way to accomplishing that," Duque said during the "In Focus" news forum in Quezon City.

Prior to the acceptance of her appointment as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee Against Illegal Drugs (ICAD), Robredo said the government should adopt a health-based approach in curbing the illegal drugs problem in the country.

What she wants

Malacañang on Monday said it was open to Robredo’s plan of changing the government’s strategy in its campaign against illegal drugs.

“If she wants to scrap it eh siya ang anti-drug czar, kung sa tingin niya meron pang mas effective sa tokhang eh di gawin niya,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a news conference. — DVM/NB, GMA News