Bill seeks more rehab centers for 'Tokhang' surrenderees


MANILA, Philippines   A shortage of rehabilitation centers for drug dependents in the face of hundreds of thousands who have surrendered in a police drive against users and peddlers has pushed lawmakers to file bills to put up more centers across the country.

The Palace hailed the government's war on drugs a success earlier this month, citing the more than 16,000 drug suspects arrested, and the 700,000 that have surrendered and who pledged en masse in ceremonies across the country to stay away from drugs. 

“Napakarami na po ng nahuling drug addicts at nagpa-voluntary rehabilitation, pero di po ma-rehabilitate to the fullest because of the scarcity of centers and the high cost of rehabilitation,” Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said.

According to a media release from the House of Representatives, Castelo is the author of House Resolution 271, which seeks the establishment of a drug rehabilitation center in each highly-urbanized city, or cities with populations of at least 200,000 people and annual incomes of P50 million. Resolutions are generally used to communicate the sense, or position, of a House of Congress while bills are proposed legislation,

Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu of Batangas has also filed House Bill No. 9, which seeks to put up a drug rehabilitation center in every region. He said that “the immediate enactment into law of our House Bill 9 will start the comprehensive process of changing lives and bringing the drug dependents back to their families and communities.”

Resource speakers from the Department of Health, Dangerous Drug Board, and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) agreed with lawmakers that there is a shortage of facilities and budget allocation for drug rehabilitation. They said they have integrated drug rehabilitation into the proposed 2017 budget.

According to Surigao del Norte Rep.  Ace Barbers, drug rehabilitation is one area that President Rodrigo Duterte has given priority, citing the allocation of P3 billion in the proposed 2017 national budget for drug rehabilitation centers.

READ: DOH: P3B alloted for rehab of drug addicts

“It is very important that the concerned agencies be on top of the drug rehabilitation programs’ implementation. The war on drugs doesn’t stop on the enforcement side. It should end on the rehabilitation side,” Barbers said.

House members have urged the Committee on Dangerous Drugs to fast-track the approval of proposals to put up drug rehabilitation centers in the country. Committees usually consolidate related pieces of legislation into a committee report, which must be approved at the committee level before being brought to the plenary floor.

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