File photo shows Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo, File
Hontiveros pitches for health, rights-based law enforcement approach to drug problem
( - November 15, 2019 - 12:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government needs a health-based and rights-based drug law enforcement approach to curb the proliferation of illegal narcotics and drug-related violence, an minority senator said.

In a statement Friday, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she supports Vice President Leni Robredo’s plan to use a public health approach in the government’s anti-drug campaign.

"This is not a contest on who can kill the most. This is about the best strategy that will jail many drug lords and will save and reform many lives," Hontiveros said in Filipino.

Robredo, who is co-chair the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs, has been pitching for a public health approach to help combat the illegal drug menace. She said the countries that tried to solve it using violence did not succeed.

"Addiction is a health issue. On the other hand, big-time drug pushing is a serious crime," Hontiveros said.

"On the demand side, we need to push for the implementation of a barangay health and rehabilitation program. On the supply side, a modern, rights-based drug law enforcement which will focus on big drug lords and syndicates is needed. I look forward to the vice president acting on these things," she added.

Hontiveros said the vice president could pursue the following to respond to the country’s drug problem:

  • Roll out voluntary, out-patient and community-based programs in poor communities
  • Study creation of “recovery courts” to help drug dependents become and remain drug free through treatment and recovery
  • Implement a “law enforcement-assisted diversion” scheme in which the police will turn over drug dependent, especially young ones, who have not committed serious crimes to case managers for treatment and rehabilitation instead of simply arresting them
  • Implement a comprehensive drug education and prevention campaign to deter non-user from illegal drugs

The opposition senator also suggested the following on the law enforcement side:

  • Implement internal cleansing of law enforcement agencies to ensure their ranks are  not infiltrated by elements corrupted by drug syndicates
  • Replenish ranks of law enforcers with new and young agents who are impervious to police corruption
  • Mobilize government resources to fund nationwide automated crime reporting system, security-camera command centers in police districts and stations, air assets and modern laboratory equipment which can be used for more thorough and extensive substance analysis
  • Strengthen community policing as a response to reactive, incident-driven law enforcement work

“We need to replace the government’s ‘kill, kill, kill’ policy with a 4Ks approach namely: kalusugan, kapulisan, katarungan at komunidad, (health, police, justice, community),” Hontiveros said. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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