BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – With almost 5,000 drug suspects who surrendered to authorities in Negros Occidental in just two weeks, Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr proposed a solution to ensure the success of the anti-drug campaign: include their rehabilitation in the coverage of the national health insurance program.
"Our immediate concern is to help. Our suggestion is that the national government and the PhilHealth should include patients who are undergoing rehabilitation in their program," Marañon said in a news conference on Friday, July 15.
Chief Superintendent Conrado Capa, director of Police Regional Office 18; and Senior Superintendent William Señoron, acting director of Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, joined the press conference at the provincial capitol.
"We have to sustain this program or else they will go back to dealing drugs," the governor said.
He said that if PhilHealth wil include drug rehabilitation in its coverage, "I think we can solve the problem partially."
The governor said he is drafting the letter to formalize the proposal to PhilHealth.
Marañon said that last year, he was worried that the illegal drug problem was turning into a "losing battle" in the province but he has foundsome assurance in the new administration's determination to stamp out the problem.
He said the anti-drug campaign is "gaining ground and it's gaining momentum but we have to sustain this campaign by helping those who surrendered."
Sustaining the battle
Marañon said that the provincial government is looking to allocate P5 million for the drug rehabilitation program in the province, which is all the province could afford so that other programs will not be compromised.
"Initially, the province will finance the rehabilitation but we can't sustain this," the governor said, adding that he already requested the Provincial Budget Officer to prepare the supplemental budget for this proposal.
There are two drug rehabilitation centers in the province, one of them subsidized by the provincial government.
"We're trying to look for a place where we can put up our own drug rehabilitation program because the two facilities are not enough" Marañon added.
The governor is also set to meet with all the mayors on July 21 to discuss the proposal because "the help of the local government units is very crucial."
He added that they are looking to put up rehabilitation centers in all 6 districts of Negros Occidental.
Capa, for his part, said the good thing about the decision of some drug users and suspects to surrender to authorities is that the latter "now have faces, we have names, we have addresses."
"Long time ago, we don't have those. It's a very good advantage fr the LGUs and the police," he said.
He said those who have surrendered have undergone profiling – they were interviewed and their pictures and fingerprints were taken.
Capa stressed said that police would monitor surrenderees, who are required to report to the police and barangay officials regularly.
"We monitor them. They're like on probation," he added. – Rappler.com