In this photo release, Vice President Leni Robredo met with members of the Naga City Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) at City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CADAC) to ask for updates in their initiatives in their anti-narcotics campaign.
Office of the Vice President, Facebook release
Robredo: Rehab centers lack manpower, more funding may be needed
Kristine Joy Patag ( - November 18, 2019 - 7:19pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health has a rehabilitation program for drug dependents in the country, but resources are lacking, Vice President Leni Robredo said Monday.

Robredo went to the DOH central office in Manila on Monday afternoon to meet with Health officials for a briefing on drug rehabilitation centers in the country.

READ: Robredo: Look at drug issue as medical, sociological problem

The vice president, who is co-chairperson of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, said that the DOH is requesting separate facilities for drug pushers and users.

“We think there should be higher budget for the DOH so they can pursue what they want to do. More manpower for effective rehabilitation,” she said in Filipino.

Robredo added she will also visit the rehabilitation centers to see best practices there, and to see what the facilities may lack.

Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo, according to a The STAR report, said that there are about 4,000 drug dependents in the 18 rehabilitation centers spread across the country.

RELATED: Robredo, UN discuss ‘best practices’ in tackling drug problem

The policy-making Dangerous Drugs Board said in October, that there were 54 treatment and rehabilitation facilities that reported to the Treatment and Rehabilitation Information System in 2018.

DDB said 5,447 admissions were recorded that year, 5,188 of which were new cases. Another 171 were relapsed cases while 88 sought treatment in an out-patient facility.

It said there was a 34.66-percent increase in admissions against figures in 2017.

"Maraming ginagawa (They are doing a lot), actually, ang DOH—very commendable, very admirable—as far as the rehabilitation and reintegration phase is concerned," Robredo told reporters on Monday.

She said, though, that the agency also faces many challenges, "and that is what we're looking to find a solution to, and to lighten the DOH's load."

Plea bargaining

“We already said this during the first ICAD meeting... for plea bargaining for users and pushers, they are together in the rehabilitation center, so there is contamination,” she explained.

In May 2018, the Supreme Court released guidelines on plea bargaining in drug cases that would allow drug suspects to plead guilty to a lesser offense.

One of the guidelines stated that “in all instances, whether or not the maximum period of the penalty imposed is already served, drug dependency test shall be required. If the accused admits drug use, or denies it but is found positive after drug dependency test, he/she shall undergo treatment and rehabilitation for a period of not less than six months.”

If convicted, the accused’s stay at the rehabilitation period shall be deducted from their jail sentence.

When the vice president first met with the ICAD, Robredo said that the government should not address the drug menace by looking at it as a problem of crime.

“We should look at it not just using the lens of crimes or criminal justice but also using the lens of health and the fact that addiction is a medical and a sociological problem,” she said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros threw her support at Robredo’s suggestion and made her own pitches on health- and rights-based ways to address the narcotics problem.

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