Gov’t remains firm to finish anti-drug war by 2022

MANILA Officials of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) on Wednesday expressed their commitment to pursue the relentless campaign against illegal drugs despite President Rodrigo Duterte's remark that drugs will not end even under his term.

It might not be possible but that is our target anyway, Department of the Interior and Local government (DILG) Officer-in-Charge Secretary Eduardo AAo said during the Rehabinasyon press briefing in MalacaAang.

AAo has credited the government's success in fighting illegal drugs to Duterte's political will and sincerity.

Even before this administration, we already have problems (with) drugs and we only found that it is really a big problem when we have these relentless efforts and we have 1.3 million drug personalities who surrendered, he said.

AAo said law enforcers were able to shut down shabu (crystal meth) laboratories in the country, prompting drug syndicates to attempt to smuggle drugs worth billions of pesos into the country.

We cannot do this overnight. Hopefully, it will be finished by 2022. It did not grow. We just discovered that this (problem) is so huge. We have more work to do, he said.

AAo, however, acknowledged that the present campaign would not be enough to pin down pushers and drug syndicates.

Congress, he said, must pass the proposed bill seeking the re-imposition of the death penalty against drug pushers and syndicates.

We are one of the only few countries that have no death penalty against illegal drug offenders. In Malaysia, only grams of drugs can be grounds for the death penalty. They should feel the fear of doing it, AAo said.

Meanwhile, Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chairman, Secretary Catalino Cuy, said all the strategies and programs of the government are anchored on suppressing the flow of illegal drugs through sustained law enforcement operations.

Our strategy is to achieve drug-free communities through supply reduction efforts. Everybody was surprised when 1.3 million drug dependents surrendered. This led to the formation of community-based rehabilitation, Cuy said. This is a big challenge for the government and this is where the support of the public is very much needed.

According to ICAD data, a total of 42,029 out of 42,044 barangays, or 99.96 percent, have organized their respective Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC).

So far, only 15 barangays from the National Capital Region and the Bicol region, have not yet organized their BADACs.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said a total of 53 licensed and accredited Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers (DATRCs) have been established for the rehabilitation of drug dependents across the country.

Duque said 8,412 residents have graduated from different DATRCs, including 15 operated by the health department.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Acting Secretary Virginia Orogo said the rehabilitation of drug dependents can be considered successful when they have been finally accepted by the community with the full support of their families.

That is why we have a two-prong approach. While we try to rehabilitate, we also help the families, Orogo said.

She said acceptance will play a big role in the rehabilitation of the victims of illegal drugs.

The ICAD, chaired by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, was established in March 2017 through Executive Order No. 15 signed by Duterte to establish a coordinated and integrated mechanism in implementing the Philippine Anti-Drug Strategy.

The committee's vision is to build drug-free communities by 2022.

During the media briefing, the health department launched its hotline 155 "Talikuran ang Droga where the public can ask for information and assistance if they want to help victims of illegal drugs. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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