Dangerous Drugs Board wants rehab centers in jails

MANILA, Philippines – In a bid to support President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) recommended several amendments to Republic Act (RA) Number 9165 or the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002."

These amendments include putting up treatment and rehabilitation centers for drug users in jails. 

"Right now, may mga detainees tayo or prisoners in jail na drug users also (Right now, we have detainees in jail who are drug users also). We are recommending the establishment of treatment and rehab centers in jails," DDB Chairman Felipe Rojas Jr told the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs on Wednesday, August 24.  

"They should allocate certain areas para hiwalay po 'yung mga drug users na detainees from other prisoners (so the drug users who are detainees will be separate from the other prisoners)," he added.  

Rojas also said they want the law's definition of a drug "den, dive, or resort" to also include any activities or events where drugs are distributed, sold, or used.

The DBB said this is after the Closeup Forever Summer Concert in May, which left 5 concert-goers dead. Authorities suspect they died from drug overdose. 

"Nangyari 'yung Closeup sa concert grounds near Mall of Asia (The Closeup concert happened at the concert grounds near Mall of Asia). It's not considered a drug den," said Rojas. 

Music festivals like the Closeup concert tend to attract young drug users because the sounds and lights can enhance the effects of the illegal drug ecstasy on the body. (READ: Music, drugs, and alcohol: Do young Filipinos party to get high?

The DDB's other proposed amendments include the following:

On Wednesday, Rojas told congressmen of the plan to put up 4 more drug rehabilitation centers – two in Luzon, and one each in the Visayas and Mindanao. 

According to the DDB chairperson, this is one of the plans of the recently formed inter-agency task force to improve drug rehabilitation in the country. (READ: Communities, private sector help key in nationwide rehab program

Currently, the country only has 47 drug rehabilitation centers to cater to 700,000 drug users and pushers who have surrendered to authorities. 

Rojas also cited the 2015 Nationwide Survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippines, which noted that there are 1.8 million Filipino drug users

Help from House  

House Dangerous Drugs Committee chairperson Robert Ace Barbers, however, noted the P4-million decrease in the DDB's budget under the proposed 2017 national budget.

From P199.859 million in 2016, the DDB is allocated P195.918 million for 2017. 

Barbers then promised the DDB that his committee would help the agency in its anti-illegal drugs efforts.  

"So kami dito sa committee (here in our committee), you will be rest assured that we will do our best to help you, arm you, and give you ammunition to help you wage this war against drugs," said Barbers.

Duterte's vow to suppress crime and illegal drugs in 3 to 6 months led to the Philippine National Police (PNP) intensifying its anti-illegal drugs efforts. 

At least 756 drug suspects have died in police operations nationwide, while more than 1,000 deaths that are suspected to be drug-related are being investigated by the PNP. (READ: Dela Rosa to Senate: We are not butchers)

The Senate has looked into the spate of apparent summary killings happening because of the war on drugs. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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