SENATOR Sonny Angara said the proposed P3.3-trillion 2017 national budget which President Rodrigo Duterte is set to submit to Congress today should include funds for the rehabilitation of drug dependents to help them totally abandon substance abuse.
He said the absence of budget for the treatment of drug users, thousands of whom have already surrendered to authorities, will “leave a gaping hole” in the government’s war against 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. We should help addicts turn over a new leaf,” said Angara.
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.
“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 said.
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,” he 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 skills training to vulnerable youth. “For addicts who have dropped out of school, we should increase funding for Alternative Learning System (ALS) programs.”
Angara said the country’s drug rehabilitation facilities are 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.
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.”
He earlier filed Senate Bill No. 311 that includes a National Anti-Illegal Drug Campaign and Research (AIDCARE) Fund under the annual budgets of the DILG, Department of Education (DepEd), Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in addition to the appropriations of these agencies under the General Appropriations Act.