Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael â€œMikeâ€ Sueno on Thursday said the government is mapping out plans for the rehabilitation and treatment of thousands of drug dependents nationwide, stressing that the policy of the administration is not about killing but helping them.
â€œThe President hates drug addicts and drug lords but at the same time he loves them. Why? He wants to help them, not imprison or kill them,â€ he said.
The Secretary stressed that the government was looking for resources to put up rehabilitation centers in key areas of the country.
During an urgently called inter-agency meeting in the DILG-NAPOLCOM Center in Quezon City, Sueno said President Rodrigo Duterte already gave instructions to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to prioritize the establishment of drug rehabilitation and treatment centers in the country.
â€œHe directed Secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio Evasco Jr. to talk to DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno to look for money for the establishment of rehabilitation centers,â€ he pointed out.
He said the President wished to have at least one rehab center in Mindanao, one in Visayas, and one each in Northern and Southern Luzon.
The DILG estimated the initial investment cost for the establishment of a one 500-person capacity drug rehabilitation facility at Php 674 million.
According to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), there are 15 government-owned and 27 non-government owned treatment and rehabilitation centers in the country accredited with the Department of Health (DOH) as of December 2015.
Sueno emphasized that the government was working with faith-based groups, including the church to show them that â€œwe are not about killing drug addicts and pushers. We want to rehabilitate. We want to follow the rule of law.â€
Meanwhile, Evasco said the government would also tap corporations to help in the administrationâ€™s efforts of rehabilitating drug users.
He said there were lots of government programs that could be tapped to offer community service, training or alternative learning system for drug surrenderees such as the National Greening Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Sustainable Livelihood Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The creation of cluster committees was agreed upon in the meeting attended by officials of the DILG, DOH, DSWD, DDB, Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as well as Rev. Fr. Antonio E. Labiao, Jr., the Vicar-General for Pastoral Affairs of the Diocese of Novaliches, Quezon City, and Fr. Roberto dela Cruz, Prison Minister of the Archdiocese of Manila.
One committee will handle the classification system for drug-user surrenderees according to their level of needs for rehabilitation. Another committee will propose a process of determining surrenderees who can avail either community-based rehabilitation or be admitted to a rehabilitation center. A third committee will plan post-rehabilitation care or follow-up.
Other government agencies such as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Justice (DOJ) – Parole and Probation Administration (PPA), and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) will be asked to be involved in these efforts.
â€œOther stakeholders shall be invited as well, such as non-government organizations, corporations, media, leftists, and Moro groups,â€ Sueno said. (PNA)