Cebu private hospitals tapped to help treat drug suspects

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Over 20,000 drug suspects have stepped forward in Cebu province alone, and local officials are scrambling on plans to accommodate them. In the entire province, there is only one public rehabilitation facility.

According to Michael Dino, the Presidental Assistant for the Visayas, his office has been talking to private hospitals to help treat drug dependents who have "surrendered" to autorities.

"We've tapped private hospitals, like Velez [General Hospital], Chong Hua, and Cebu Doctors University to help," Dino said during a press conference at Camp Lapu-Lapu in Cebu City on Friday, August 5. "They want to stand up and be counted."

Cebu Doctors University and Chong Hua can take in about 2,000 patients each, while Velez hospital can take less than 1,000.

Dino said Cebu Doctors University Hospital would expand its rehab center and offer services at a "subsidized rate."

Dino's office is coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in ironing out the details of working with private hospitals.

He said that among the ideas being considered for patients to work in the hospital as payment for treatment costs.

In July, Cebu officials met to plan community-based rehab and treatment for those who had identified themselves to authorities.

"Government can't do it alone," Dino said.

In Central Visayas, over 40,000 have gone to the police since "Oplan Tokhang" began.

“Tokhang” is a contraction of “toktok” and “hangyo” – Visayan words for “knock” and “request,” respectively. It refers to the strategy of the police nationwide to go house-to-house in their jurisdictions and convince known drug pushers and users to surrender and be given an opportunity for reformation or rehabilitation.

If the partnership with private hospitals work in Cebu, the presidential adviser said, they would use it as template for other provinces in the Visayas.

President Rodrigo Duterte was set to visit the military base in Cebu City Friday evening. – Rappler.com 

Images of Cebu Doctors University and Velez General Hospital from Wikimedia; Chong Hua Hospital from its official website. 

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.

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