N. Ecija mega rehab center to open November: DOH

Kimberly Jane Tan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2016 03:14 PM

The 10,000-bed "mega" rehabilitation center for recovering drug addicts will open this November in Nueva Ecija, the Department of Health (DOH) announced Wednesday.

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said the partial turnover of 2,500 beds will be made on October 15 and the remaining 7,500 beds by November 16.

"The mega rehabilitation center is expected to be in full operation on the first week of November," she said, adding that 50 percent of the facility has already been finished.

The government had earlier said that the center constructed inside Fort Magsaysay was donated by an anonymous Chinese donor.

On Wednesday, Ubial identified the donor as Mr. Huang, a Chinese philanthropist and private real estate developer.

"I know for a fact that he is the developer of the largest shopping mall in Asia, it's located in China," he said, noting that he does not have any businesses in the Philippines yet.

She said Huang met with President Rodrigo Duterte at least three times: twice before the former Davao mayor won the presidency in the May 2016 elections and once after he assumed his position.

"He asked the President how he can help [and he was told] the number one priority was the treatment and rehab centers and the philanthropist actually conceptualized this donation," she said.

Ubial said Huang donated all the materials used for the construction of the facility while another donor committed to donate furnishings.

An estimated P500 million has also already been allocated in the 2017 budget for the operating and maintenance costs of the facility.

But the Nueva Ecija center is just the first of four facilities they plan to construct, Ubial said.

"The goal is to establish two mega treatment rehab centers in Luzon, one in the Visayas and one in Mindanao," she said.

PhilHealth has also approved a P10,000 package for the detoxification and other rehabilitation treatment needs of drug addicts, according to the department.

Around 720,000 drug addicts have surrendered and 15,000 have been arrested under the government's Oplan Tokhang.

Ubial, however, said "the drug user or drug dependent is not the enemy, they are victims of the drug trade in the country."