‘Addicts to reach 4 M, so let’s stop this now’

The Philippine Star

Rody orders cops to destroy ‘narcotics apparatus’

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – “What am I supposed to do with the four million?”

The number of drug addicts in the country is expected to soar from 3.7 million to four million by the end of the month, President Duterte told a gathering of policemen on Friday as he rallied authorities to destroy what he called the “narcotics apparatus.”

“There are three million addicts now in the Philippines, of late. Huwag mo na lang bilangin iyong (Don’t count the) 700,000, it’s going up. It’s going to reach a million mark by the end of this month; one million drug addicts plus three million reported by PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency), it’s four million,” the President said.

“And if we cannot destroy the apparatus now it will really be a bigger problem in the future,” the President said.

The rising number of drug addicts also indicates “narcopolitics” has definitely entered the Philippine democracy, the President told police officers and personnel belonging to the Region 12 Police Office in Tambler, General Santos City.

The President said that from three million as earlier reported by anti-drug authorities, 700,000 more drug addicts have been recorded since the President assumed office last June 30.

The 700,000 included those who have voluntarily surrendered to authorities in various parts of the country at the onset of the Duterte administration’s intensified campaign against the drug menace.

The President said the four million mark is the same level as Indonesia, which has a bigger population.

“But while Indonesia has more than 300 million population, we have over 100 million and yet we share the same number of drug addicts at four million,” the President said.

He lamented that people have not yet fully realized that he came to power midstream or when there was still no budget yet for the rehabilitation of more than 700,000 drug addicts who surrendered.

“There are people who are ignorant really how the budget works, that there is a fiscal year from January to December and I came in in the middle of the year, so what I am using now is the budget for this year that was prepared by the last administration last year,” he added.

“Nobody, nobody at that time knew the magnitude of the drug problem. And the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare and Development… they do not have the budget for rehabilitation,” he also pointed out.

He said it would be unlawful to realign budgets just to have funding for rehabilitation.

Rehab camp in Agusan

Meanwhile, an Army camp in Mindanao has become the pioneer military host of a drug rehabilitation center.

The Army’s 401st Infantry Brigade has opened a two-hectare drug rehabilitation facility inside its camp in partnership with the provincial government of Agusan del Sur.

The center, called the Residential Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (RTRC), was inaugurated Friday with chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo as guest of honor representing the President.

The RTRC can accommodate 60 patients at any given time and shall be managed and administered by the provincial government of Agusan del Sur.

The establishment of the RTRC is in line with the province’s drug rehabilitation program called Substance Use Recovery and Enlightenment (SURE).

SURE aims to give victims of drug use a second chance at life and keep them away from drug syndicates.

Gov. Eddiebong Plaza of Agusan del Sur praised the local Army unit for its significant support for his anti-drug campaign.

Plaza said his province takes pride in having the 401st Brigade as an adopted Army unit and a partner in his provincial development programs.

The Army camp based in the town of Prosperidad has a total land area of 334 hectares.

Col. Cristobal Zaragoza, the Army’s 401st Brigade commander, said the unveiling of the rehab facility was part of a team collaboration between the military and the local government.

“We will give our all-out support to this campaign,” said Zaragoza. “A drug-free province is necessary for a drug-free country.”

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