By Jel Santos
A balanced approach in addressing the needs of each user is key to the successful rehabilitation of drug surrenderers.
This was disclosed by Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Chairman Secretary Benjamin Reyes noting that each drug user has a different need.
“Each drug surrenderer has a different need. We must address that in order for them to be rehabilitated and become productive part of the society. We don’t just lock them at drug rehab facilities,” Reyes said during Manila Bulletin’s Hot Seat, a roundtable discussion with editors yesterday.
“Data show that out of the four million drug users in the country, only one percent must be admitted to the in-patient program. Meanwhile, the remaining 99 percent only needs community-based rehab program,” he explained.
Reyes said it is not advisable to thrust drug users immediately in rehab facilities. The severity of one’s addiction must be identified first, he noted.
“Not all drug personalities should be put in drug rehabilitation facilities. This is because not all people have the same level of addiction – some can be moderate or severe,” he said.
The secretary said the Duterte Administration allotted a P2-B fund for the DDB to check the drug problem on its first year which is way beyond the P34-million funds DDB allotted by the Aquino administration.
The DDB chair stressed the need for local government units to establish a network and tap private entities to help in addressing the drug problem.
Since most users say they got into drugs because of poverty, Reyes said the community should link up with companies or TESDA to help provide the user with skills to make himself productive.
“As what I have said, the individual needs of the surrenderers must be addressed. If the people in your area are into illegal drugs because it’s the only source of living they have, you should help them land a job while they are undergoing rehabilitation,” he said.
“If we will not address their needs, they will just return to drug peddling in order for them to feed their families,” he added.
Reyes said only few anti-drug abuse councils in the country are actively participating in the anti-drug campaign suggesting that other areas must also be innovative to the needs of surrenderers and engage the whole community to address the health issue.
“The rehabilitation efforts will be fruitful if we will work hand-in-hand to fight drug addiction. The whole community must participate; we need to help our government win this war against illegal drugs,” Reyes stressed.
“We need the help of everyone – the community and the private sector. The government alone can’t handle it.”
Reyes said the national government does not tolerate the so-called extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. The secretary is even urging the public to report such cases, saying it will be probed and handled seriously.
“We do not condone EJKs. I, myself, am strongly against EJK. The rehabilitation programs of the government are the mere proof that we are promoting positive change, and we do not want blood to shed,” he said.
“In fact one of the first executive orders that President Duterte signed is the EO No. 4. It is also known as “Providing for the Establishment and Support of Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers throughout the Philippines,” Reyes emphasized.
Reyes learned from the Department of Justice that there has been no formal complaint filed relating to EJKs.
The DDB said they are planning to create an online portal, which will be shared on social media to educate the youth about the bad effects of illegal drugs, and to discourage the youth from trying it.
Reyes said they just presented the P10-million project to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
They also plan to seek the help of newly appointed Asst. Sec. Mocha Uson to help them in their online campaign because of her large following on Facebook.
“Educating the youth about illegal drugs is really potent. Once they are educated, they will be the ones spreading the word to their friends. They can then use the power of social media to influence,” Reyes explained. Based on research, the two leading reasons why the young use drugs is peer pressure and curiosity.
“I am discouraging young ones to try illegal drugs. Never ever try it. Your lives will be ruined once you get into it,” Reyes advised.