POLICE Regional Office 5 director, Chief Superintendent Melvin Ramon G. Buenafe yesterday called for a ‘whole of government approach’ in rehabilitating over 46,000 drug users in Bicol region who have surrendered to the police since the Philippine National Police’s Oplan: Tokhang was launched last July 1.
Of the number, more than 4,500 are civil service workers, many of them elected barangay officials in different parts of the region. “Our anti-illegal drug campaign is overwhelming as this has never happened before and with very significant impact on the drug and crime situation in the whole Bicol region,” said Buenafe, PNP ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 of Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa.
The official said that since July 1, Bicol residents have been joining their efforts against illegal drugs by allying themselves with police-initiated anti-drug organizations. “It will surely have far-reaching and long-term effects as many sectors of the community are joining the efforts against illegal drugs thru Kasurog Kontra Droga alliances.
However, Buenafe said there is a major need to send many of those who have surrendered to drug treatment centers. “Those public officials who surrendered have manifested their willingness to reform or be rehabilitated, hence our concerned partner agencies should assist in their rehabilitation,” he said. “Interventions should be urgent since many have cravings and may have relapse if not addressed or treated promptly.
Considering the limited rehab facilities and resources, surrenderers should be assessed and classified immediately and their problem addressed accordingly,” the official added.
Out of the baseline figure of 8,709 drug personalities in Bicol at the start of the implementation of PNP Project: Double Barrel last July 1, more than 330,000 houses have been visited, where 100 percent of those listed in the baseline figure were subjected to Oplan: Tokhang or visited, resulting to the surrender of more than 46,000 drug personalities.
Buenafe said they have already arrested more than 600 drug personalities in Bicol and shot and killed 62 armed suspects in gunbattles.
But just like the entire PNP, the PRO5 is also guided by the provisions of law under Section 54 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 regarding voluntary submission of drug users.
Since July 1, PNP spokesman, Senior Supt. Dionardo B. Carlos said the police have visited nearly 2.184 million houses nationwide and triggered the surrender of about 746,000 confessed drug personalities, nearly 54,300 of them known drug dealers and the rest confessed shabu or marijuana users. During the period, police also arrested 29,685 drug offenders and shot dead 1,655 armed drug traffickers during firefights across the nation. These anti-narcotics operations also left 13 policemen and three soldiers dead. Also wounded were 40 police personnel and eight military agents.
Section 15 of RA 9165 says that a person apprehended or arrested, who is found to be positive for use of any dangerous drug, after a confirmatory test, shall be imposed a penalty of a minimum of six months rehabilitation in a government center for the first offense, subject to the provisions of Article VIII of this Act.
If apprehended using any dangerous drug for the second time, he/she shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from six) years and one day to 12 years and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P200,000: Provided, That this Section shall not be applicable where the person tested is also found to have in his/her possession such quantity of any dangerous drug provided for under Section 11 of this Act, in which case the provisions stated therein shall apply.
Section 54 of RA 9165 refers to the ‘Voluntary Submission of a Drug Dependent to Confinement, Treatment and Rehabilitation.’
Confinement in a Center for treatment and rehabilitation shall not exceed one year, after which time the Court, as well as the Board, shall be apprised by the head of the treatment and rehabilitation center of the status of said drug dependent and determine whether further confinement will be for the welfare of the drug dependent and his/her family or the community.