MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday said that while the Department of Health (DOH) was doing “commendable” work rehabilitating drug addicts, it needs more funds for its operations.
“Tingin natin kailangan, dapat bigyan ng mas malaking budget ang DOH para magawa nila yung dapat nilang gawin,” Robredo told reporters after a meeting with health officials.
“Kailangan ng dagdag human resources. Maraming kailangan na tao para yung makabuluhang rehabilitation magawa.”
(We think there is a need to give a higher budget for the DOH so they can do all they need to do. They need more human resources, more people so they can pursue meaningful rehabilitation work.)
Robredo, who was recently appointed co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), has been meeting with member-agencies of the committee as she seeks to pursue reforms in the controversial anti-illegal drugs campaign of the Duterte administration.
She is also scheduled to meet with the Department of Interior and Local Government on Tuesday.
Robredo praised DOH for its work, calling it “very commendable, very admirable as far as the rehabilitation and reintegration phase is concerned.”
The Vice President has been batting for a more “humane” anti-drug campaign that would strengthen the health-based approach to rehabilitation.
With her focus on rehabilitation, Robredo acknowledged the many challenges faced by the DOH.
Among the biggest problems she sees is the mixing of drug users and drug pushers in rehabilitation centers. Earlier, she said it resulted in “new networks” within the rehabilitation centers.
“So, yung contamination malaki. Yung rinerequest sana ng DOH, magkaroon sila ng facility para di napapagisa yung pushers at users. Gusto nating gawan ng paraan para dun,” she told reporters at the DOH.
(There is contamination. What the DOH is requesting is to have an additional facility so they don’t have to accommodate both the pushers and users in one place. We want to do something about that.)
Robredo said there is also a need to visit the rehabilitation centers to understand how it works, what their best practices are, and what needs to be improved.
“Yung kakulangan talaga. Nandyan yung programa pero yung resources kulang,” she said.
(It’s really the deficiencies. You have a program but you don’t have enough resources.)
Robredo has repeatedly criticized the unnecessary killings that have resulted from Duterte’s drug war. While some of her allies believe Duterte appointed her as co-chair of ICAD to shame her, Robredo has said she sees it as an opportunity to prevent more killings from happening.
Since her appointment, she has also scheduled meetings with international groups and civil society. Last week, she met with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and a United States delegation. This supposedly raised questions on whether she was sharing confidential information with foreign entities. Robredo assured the government that she don’t leak classified information.