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Palace: Drugs also a public health issue

Prisoners hold on to the window grill as they communicate with their relatives below hours after officials said numbers of inmates, including alleged Chinese drug criminals, died in a suspected grenade blast at the Paranaque City Jail Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in suburban Paranaque city, south of Manila, Philippines. The warden was seriously injured in Thursday night's explosion. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang bared that the government is undertaking "very admirable" efforts to address the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country.

"The government is very, very aware and it's very concerned that drugs are not just a national security issue but also a public health issue," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a news conference on Friday.

Abella added that the government is eyeing to build a 10-hectare drug rehabilitation facility at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

The project includes housing, farming and sustainable green programs for drug users who will undergo rehabilitation.

"So when clients come out, they have learned some skills and also sustainable things," Abella said.

The Palace official, however, clarified that the rehabilitation project of the Department of Health (DOH) is not intended to attend to everybody, given that almost 600,000 drug users have already surrendered.

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According to reports, the DOH offers rehabilitation programs for drug dependents for only up to six months.

Abella noted that special attention may be given to at least 60,000 drug dependents while the others may undergo treatment with the help of their barangays and efforts of faith-based groups.

President Rodrigo Duterte has called on human rights advocates who are criticizing his anti-drug war to come to the country and see the situation for themselves.

Such remarks from the president came after a statement from United Nations special rapporteurs who reminded the Philippine government to ensure the right to life and safety of all Filipinos.

READ: Duterte to human rights groups: See drug problem for yourselves

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