Focus on drug rehab too, says Robredo

Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2016 09:16 PM | Updated as of Sep 07 2016 01:25 AM

MANILA - Vice-President Leni Robredo on Tuesday assured the Duterte administration of her cooperation in the fight against illegal drugs, but she said efforts must also be made in the rehabilitation of illegal drug users. 

Robredo said the government must create a program to help drug users or pushers who surrendered recently to government authorities, so that they would not get lost and go back to their old habits.

''I think kailangan na nating pagtulungan itong lahat, hindi biro ang problema. Rehabilitation is the way to go," said Robredo during a briefing on drug rehabilitation programs of the country by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

(Cooperation is needed to tackle this problem. This is no laughing matter. Rehabilitation is the way to go.)

The government said nearly 700,000 drug users and pushers have surrendered, but administration critics said there appears to be no clear plan on how to deal with their sheer volume.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized for frequently saying that drug users are no longer of use to the society. His increasingly bloody campaign against suspected drug pushers has also caught the attention of human rights groups here and abroad.

Robredo said the government must find ways to help drug dependents after their surrender. She wants a program that will ensure that drug users will no longer find interest in going back to their old habits.

"Ang worry ko baka mag-ningas cogon. Totoong meron 700,000 surrenderees tayo pero that should not be treated as an accomplishment," said Robredo.

(My worry is that all efforts will be half-hearted. The surrendering of 700,000 drug personalities must not be considered an accomplishment in itself.)

Robredo said the government must also come up with a plan to help drug peddlers in reforming themselves.

"Ano yung gagawin dun sa mga nakakulong because of drugs? Seventy percent of detainees are there because of drugs. After they have served their sentences, if there is no intervention, ganun din 'yun," said Robredo.

(What will we do to those detained because of drugs? Seventy percent of detainees are there because of drugs. After they have served their sentences, if there is no intervention, it will all just be the same.)

Robredo lauded the efforts of the church in helping the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC), highlighting the gains that communities have made in bridging the gap between surrender and reform.

"Marami nang nagawa pero we have to admit na marami pang kailangang gawin," said Robredo.

(We have done a lot, but more needs to be done.)
    
Secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio Evasco Jr. agreed with Robredo's position.

"We are confronted with 700,000 'surrenderees'. Whether we like it or not, they are resources, we have to take care of them so we can turn them into productive members [of society]," said Evasco.