Rody: China helping Philippines in fight vs drugs

(The Philippine Star) - September 10, 2016 - 12:00am

JAKARTA, Philippines – President Duterte thanked yesterday China for helping the country address the drug menace plaguing the more than 3.7 million Filipinos by assisting in the rehabilitation of addicts.

“Next year there will be rehab centers. We are preparing it now. China is helping us,” the President told the more than 500 Filipinos who attended a gathering yesterday at the Shangri-La Jakarta grand ballroom.

At least four “mega” drug rehabilitation and treatment centers are reportedly being constructed for the more 600,000 drug users and drug pushers who have surrendered to authorities since the President assumed office last June 30.

“I would like to thank China for being so generous,” Duterte said.

The President told the Filipino community here that he never realized the enormity of the drug problem in the country until he became President.

He said that government does not have the budget for the rehabilitation of the 3.7 million Filipinos who are into drugs.

China would reportedly help in establishing the four mega rehabilitation and treatment centers, one each in the Visayas and Mindanao and two in Luzon. 

However, the President did not give details on the assistance of China in building the rehabilitation centers.

Duterte said he would continue with his relentless fight against drugs until the problem is reasonably solved in the country. 

In order to make the campaign against illegal drug use more effective, Sen. Richard Gordon said there is a need to identify the users while they are young and get them off the habit early on.

Apart from going after drug pushers, who are being killed by the hundreds in the streets, Gordon said that a more holistic approach is needed to make a lasting impact against illegal drugs.

The Department of Health has noted that there are not enough rehabilitation centers to accommodate the staggering number of users surrendering, so the government is planning to establish more of these facilities in the coming year.

But more than constructing rehabilitation centers, Gordon said the government should also invest in additional psychologists or psychosocial support experts for local government units and guidance counselors for public schools.

Gordon said that authorities should be more proactive if it wants to have a more effective and holistic approach in eradicating illegal drugs.

CBCP hits suspension of writ

An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) rejected the proposed suspension of the writ of habeas corpus to fight illegal drug syndicates.

CBCP Public Affairs Committee executive secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano questioned the proposal of Gordon to call for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus that was intended to strengthen the power of the government to combat illegal drugs.

He said the people are being made to believe that the only way to address the drug problem is to take away our only defense against possible abuses and impunity.

“Have we run out of effective options to combat the drug problem that we are going to give up our human rights?” said Secillano.

Gordon said he wants to expand the scope of the state of national emergency that was declared by President Duterte to include the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

He explained that his proposal is allowed under the Constitution, particularly Article VI Section 18 or the “commander-in-chief principle.”

Under the provision, the President – in cases of invasion or rebellion, or when the public safety requires it – may, for a period not exceeding 60 days, suspend the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part of it under martial law.

“While we recognize the menace that drugs have brought to our society, does that justify surrendering our basic rights just so they can put the country in order?” Secillano added.

“Let’s do things not only the legal way, but let’s also employ the right, just and ethical means to solve our problems,” the CBCP official added.

The Duterte administration has launched a no-let up campaign against illegal drugs. Ovet 2,000 people have reportedly died in connection with the illegal drug campaign.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno claimed that if Duterte was not elected president the Philippines will become a narco-state in the next six years.

Speaking during the Pangasinan Anti-Illegal Drugs Summit at the Sison Auditorium in Lingayen, Pangasinan yesterday, Sueno said this means that drug lords would take over the country.

“Our politicians, from the governors, congressmen, mayors, even barangay captains, will win their seats because of drug money,” he added. – With Marvin Sy, Evelyn Macairan, Eva Visperas





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