MANILA, Philippines - China has begun the groundwork for the construction of a drug rehabilitation center in Northern Luzon, Malacañang disclosed yesterday.
In a press briefing, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said this was part of phase two of the Duterte administration’s war against illegal drugs.
Phase two is more focused on the operations against drug lords, rehabilitation of drug addicts or dependents, case investigations and the filing of cases before the courts, among others.
Abella would not confirm that the rehabilitation center would be located at Fort Ramon Magsaysay in Palayan, Nueva Ecija province.
The fort is the largest military reservation in the country and one of the key training centers of the Philippine Army.
Earlier, President Duterte said China offered to help in the construction of drug rehabilitation facilities in the country.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has also summoned Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua to discuss the drug crisis in the country and seek assistance to end it.
The President and the police have said drug syndicates are operating in the Philippines even as the kingpins are abroad, many of them in China.
Duterte has been visiting military camps around the country to ask, among other concerns, for a lot where he could construct buildings that would serve as drug rehabilitation centers.
The insufficient number of rehabilitation centers in the country was highlighted after more than 600,000 drug users surrendered to the police in less than two months since Duterte took his oath of office on June 30.
Local governments also struggled to address the problem as some units were left with issuing warnings to those who surrendered and then sending them back home due to lack of facilities to treat them for drug dependence.
Other units offer an exercise program, like zumba, or impose community volunteer work, usually confined to coastal or street cleanup drives.
Duterte has been saying that more than six million Filipinos are into shabu, the most abused substance in the country.
He also said that the brains of those taking shabu on a daily basis for a period of one year would shrink, making them useless and unsuitable for rehabilitation.
These are also the kinds of people who lose their minds and usually figure in crimes, Duterte said.