AS the campaign against illegal drugs intensifies, government officials worry about the lack of rehabilitation centers for both users and pushers who want to reform.
During the congressional briefing on the illegal drugs menace, officials from the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and Department of Health (DoH) reported that there are only 44 rehabilitation centers nationwide, not enough to accommodate thousands of drug dependents who want to be treated.
President Rodrigo Duterte is pushing a bold campaign against illegal drugs and has vowed to get rid of the scourge in the first six months of his administration.
As of August 11, already 564,109 have turned themselves in to authorities. Of the number about 518,310 are users and the rest pushers or 45,799.
DDB chairman Felipe Rojas said this P5.5 billion drug industry has victimized at least 4.8 Filipinos, 1.8 million of them hooked in the illegal substances such as shabu, marijuana and ecstasy.
Rojas said the lack of rehabilitation facilities in the country contributes to the difficulty to stop the drug problem.
One of the recommendations of the DDB to the government is the construction of at least one major rehabilitation center in military camps in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
“Kung hindi kaya ng per province, at least per region na lang, one rehabilitation center per region,” Rojas told the committee on dangerous drugs chaired by Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers.
Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento said local officials noticed those who had “surrendered” returned home after learning that the government cannot accommodate them for long-time treatment or rehabilitation.
“Napapansin namin after the surrender, they just go back to their homes, kasi wala namang paglagyan sa kanila. Sayang hindi sila natutulungan,” Sarmiento added.
Dr. Jasmin Peralta, program manager of DoH Training and Rehabilitation Program, said that aside from the 44 rehabilitation centers, the government has only three centers for outpatients, still not enough to accommodate the users.
For 2016, the budget for the program of the DoH is only P651 million.
Responding to queries of Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Peralta admitted that the lack of budget hampers the DoH’s plan to expand its programs to other parts of the country where drug use is prevalent.
“Aside from few rehabilitation centers, we also lack psychologists to handle rehabilitation program. Dapat one psychologist per 15 patients, but ang set-up ngayon, one psychologist per rehabilitation center. Kulang na kulang talaga,” she added.
The official also said, social workers are badly needed in the program, for the past recovery of the patients.
For his part, Barbers deplored the unimaginable scale of illegal drugs proliferation.
“Considering the sheer number of surrenderees alone, it is very alarming. We need to triple our efforts to further strengthen existing laws against illegal drugs. The Committee would look into the reports and positions of concerned agencies to aid us in our mandate,” Barbers said.