Duterte drug war needs balance: DDB chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 11 2017 10:35 AM

MANILA - New Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chairperson Dionisio Santiago believes the administration's war against illegal drugs may need a more balanced approach.

Santiago said aside from the law enforcement side, which he believes has been effective, other aspects of the drug war, such as rehab and prevention, need to be strengthened.

"Di ko naman kinokontra 'yung effective portion ng law enforcement. Ituloy natin 'yan at i-enhance by being stricter in legalities. Pero aside from that, i-balance mo," he told ANC Tuesday.

Santiago noted that while the administration has been successful in instilling fear among pushers and addicts, some of them are forced to go back to drugs due to lack of livelihood or extreme poverty.

The same set of data from the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs also revealed over 1.3 million drug suspects have surrendered under Oplan Tokhang.

"May mga natokhang na ni-report, umamin sila tapos napilitan bumalik because, sabi nila, income, survival. Sa revised program natin, we will make it preemptive and preventive," Santiago said.

Asked how he would address thousands of drug surrenderers, he said he wants to assess first the number of drug rehab centers needed per region and to institutionalize community-based rehab.

Santiago said he is not in favor of mega drug rehab centers and he believes a more localized rehab effort will be more effective in addressing drug addiction.

The former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief said he will be convening DDB members and ask them to review their existing policies and draft proposals and revisions if necessary.

The DDB composed of 17 members from different government agencies, such as the departments of Health, Education, Social and Welfare, and Interior and Local Government.

Santiago replaced Benjamin Reyes as DDB chair, who was fired for supposedly contradicting the government’s official data on drug addicts in the country.

Duterte said he was irked when Reyes, citing a DDB survey, cited data that there were only 1.8 million drug users in the country during a forum attended by a UN special rapporteur.

The President said Reyes contradicted the government when he used this figure. Duterte insisted that there are now about 4 million drug users in the country.