Press Release
August 14, 2016

Include drug rehab funds in the 2017 budget -Angara

Funds for the rehabilitation of hundreds of thousands of drug dependents must be included in the 2017 national budget as the absence of such would "leave a gaping hole" in the government's war against drugs, Senator Sonny Angara said today.

Angara said the P3.3-trillion national budget for next year, which President Duterte is scheduled to send to Congress on August 15, should carry "appropriations for the treatment" of drug addicts who would like to turn their back on substance dependence.

Angara said a strong national drug rehabilitation program is "the logical next step to the administration's drive to suppress widespread use of illegal drugs."

"It is not enough that we have a budget for the 'jail the pusher' part. We must also fund the 'save the user' component of the anti-drug campaign," Angara said.

"We should help addicts turn over a new leaf. They need help. Without intervention, there's a strong chance they'll backslide to their old ways. If that happens, then we're back to square one," he added.

Angara lamented that there is a very little amount in the current 2016 national budget which funds drug rehabilitation centers or programs.

"There's none in the P154-billion budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and a measly P634.4 million for the Operation of Dangerous Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers of the Department of Health," the senator said.

"For a problem so big, treatment of drug addiction has very, very small footprint in the national budget. This should not be the case in the 2017 national budget," he stressed. He said drug prevention funds could even extend to providing TESDA training to vulnerable youth. "For addicts who have dropped out of school, we should increase funding for Alternative Learning System programs."

Angara said the number of the country's drug rehabilitation facilities is not enough to handle the multitude of drug addicts who have surrendered to the government.

"There's a national shortage. The demand for rehab is way, way bigger than available facilities," he said.

From July 1 to 20 alone, 114,833 illegal drug suspects had given themselves up to the police, an official report from Camp Crame said. It predicted that surrenderees will eventually reach more than a million.

Angara said like any war, the campaign against drugs has created its own refugees. "Thousands are fleeing the drug trade. We can't leave them stranded. We need to process them and then help them."

In calling for a multisectoral and holistic approach to solving the drug menace, Angara said agencies, outside those whose primary mission is to combat drug abuse, must also have an assigned part.

The lawmaker has filed Senate Bill 311 that includes a National Anti-Illegal Drug Campaign and Research (AIDCARE) Fund under the annual budgets of the DILG, Department of Education, Dangerous Drugs Board and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority in addition to the appropriations of these agencies under the General Appropriations Act.

Under the proposed measure, such exclusive fund will be used to 1) establish a nationwide education and awareness program on illegal drugs; 2) implement a mandatory training for local government unit personnel involved with the enforcement, research, and policymaking on illegal drugs; 3) conduct a nationwide study on the nature and extent of drug abuse; 4) put up a national helpline for drug abusers; and, 5) create a public registry of drug dealers, pushers and traffickers.

"We must acknowledge that while the government has declared war against illegal drugs in order to maintain peace and order, it must also provide an opportunity for drug abusers to reform their lives, as they are merely victims as well of drug lords who control the massive illegal drug trade in the country," Angara said.

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