PALAYAN City, Nueva Ecija -- The provincial government is not backing down despite the suspension of President Duterte’s war on drugs as it is even eyeing to put up its own permanent drug rehabilitation center to accommodate the growing number of drug users in the province.
This came to fore during the launching of the “United Stand Against Dangerous Drugs” (USADD) by the provincial government in collaboration with the provincial police and other stakeholders at the Sierra Madre Suites last Thursday.
It was led by Gov. Czarina D. Umali, her husband, former Gov. Aurelio M. Umali, provincial police director Senior Supt. Antonio C. Yarra and other top local, barangay and police officials.
The governor said the drug war could continue without lives being sacrificed, recalling that when she launched the drug summit in September last year, she emphasized that all drug pushers and drug addicts in the province should be “wiped out” but not through violent means but by rehabilitating them.
“Let us eliminate the drug pushers and drug addicts in them by helping them get rehabilitated,” Czarina said.
Aurelio, who sits as chair of the Provincial Anti-Illegal Drugs Convenor (PAIDC), echoed the governor’s call, saying the war on drugs will continue even with the suspension by President Duterte of “Tokhang” which, he said, is viewed by some as a setback in the anti-drugs campaign.
“We will move on. We will continue the fight,” he stressed.
With Tokhang suspended, the former governor said this now gives them ample opportunity to focus more on the rehabilitation of drug surrenderers, whose numbers have now swelled to more than 28,000 from only 17,000 in October last year.
“From only 17,000 in October, we have an additional 11,000 in just three months. These in spite of the setbacks encountered in the campaign,” the former governor said, adding the drug problem in the province needs the concerted efforts of stakeholders.
With this in mind, Aurelio said the provincial government plans to set up its own P75-million drug rehabilitation center in this city which will be distinct and separate from the Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center established by the Duterte administration inside Fort Magsaysay last November.
He said the LGU-operated drug center project will be patterned after the one being operated in Bataan. “This one is meant to be permanent and we will come up with a staffing pattern so that the center will be manned,” he said.
During the same USADD launching, some 100 drug surrenderers were also turned over to the MDATRC inside the military camp.