Multi-pronged approach needed to eradicate drug menace, Senator Gordon says

Given the magnitude of the country's illegal drugs problem, Senator Richard J. Gordon said a multi-pronged approach is needed to attack and eradicate the menace.

In a radio interview over the weekend, Gordon reiterated his statement at the Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs committee hearing that drug abuse should be nipped in the bud by involving the schools in addressing the problem.

He said school administrations and the Parent-Teachers Associations should wage a campaign against drug abuse, proposing that they should launch a "Do You Know What Your Children Are Doing Right Now" campaigns because accountability should also go down to the schools and the family.

"To me we cannot escape accountability by the police, sisihin ko kayo, sisihin ko ang NBI, sisihin ko ang Department of Justice, sisihin ko yung mga fiscals. But the brunt of the problem, the accountability goes back to family, then to the school, then to the community, then to the churches and then kung nasa bilibid yung nagdudrugs, drug lords dun may mga TV, may mga Jacuzzi, may baril, may babae, then ano yung ginagawa ng Bilibid? Hindi ba pwede isara yung pinto ng bilibid?" the senator said.

"According to statistics, people as young as 10 to 19 years old are into drugs. Dun sa concert last May, five died and one of them was an 18-year old. Investigation showed that some of the deaths were caused by drug overdose. Parents should be more aware of what their children are doing," he added.

Gordon pointed out that if there are drug abuse problems in schools, they should have well-trained guidance counsellors and the cities should have psychiatrists for really serious drug problems.

"If we have a problem like this in schools, you need guidance counselors that are well trained. We should have psychologists. If there is a problem like this, he can spot it and right away he should apply the necessary approach. Kapag talagang grabe na, you get a psychiatrist in the city," he said.

The senator also stressed the need for strict implementation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly its provisions that are unfortunately not enforced.

He particularly cited the law's provision which mandates the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to recommend to the Department of Justice the forfeiture of properties and other assets of persons and/or corporations found to be violating the provisions of RA 9165.

"Kailangan kapag nakahuli ng drug lord, kukunin yung pera, yung ari-arian, yung eroplano, yung mga kotse. Were you able to do this?" the senator asked, to which a DOJ official replied that almost no confiscation has been done and that they only get the evidence covered.

Gordon also cited the provision which requires forensic laboratories established in each Philippine National Police office in every province and city in order to facilitate action on seized or confiscated drugs which would hasten its destruction without delay.

He also expressed concurrence to a proposal to eradicate the need to apply for a court order before a drug user could be admitted to drug rehabilitation facilities, adding that a letter of request should be sufficient so as not to prolong the process.

"We already have the law and the agencies that would implement it. We just need to enforce the law properly. Do we really need a cosmetic change in the law and create the PRADA, when we already have the PDEA?" the senator stressed.

Gordon also proposed that the Department of Foreign Affairs should send a note verbale to China after law enforcement authorities admitted that many Chinese citizens are involved in the illegal drugs trade here and that illegal drugs and raw materials for manufacturing drugs mostly come from China.

He said the government should appeal to China to help arrest their citizens who bring drugs here by asking their Customs authorities, as well as the officials of their airports and seaports, to strictly inspect Philippines-bound shipments and Chinese travelers.

Source: Philippine Information Agency

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