A SELF-CONFESSED former drug addict-turned-Visayan lawmaker has urged President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte to outsource the costly maintenance of drug rehabilitation centers as the government may need at least P5.15 billion for the full treatment of 20,000 recovering drug dependents.
This was stressed by Negros Oriental Rep. Arnulfo “Arnie” Teves, who admitted in a privilege speech last month being a drug addict but has
not taken drugs in the last 16 years, during the recent House committee on dangerous drugs hearing chaired by Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert “Ace” Barbers which is deliberating 27 bills seeking to create
drug rehabilitation centers in the countryside.
The country has at least 47 accredited residential and non-residential drug rehabilitation centers.
Teves explained the government can save resources if his proposal will be given a chance because the P5.15 billion for 20,000 patients will cover only the expenses for personnel services and does not include food requirement in an in-patient rehabilitation center.
“I’m not saying let’s not put up rehabilitation centers. We need these rehabilitation centers P257,500 per person, lagay mo na lang mga bente mil, hindi pa kasama construction cost. I don’t think the Philippines would want to spend that or even afford it,” said Teves.
Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Benjamin Reyes told lawmakers during
the hearing that the country has an estimated 1.7 million to 3.7 million drug dependents where 715,699 of these have surrendered to authorities as of September 20, 2016 following the intensified and bloody anti-illegal drugs campaign of President Duterte.
He based his figures on the P257,500 expenses per every recovering drug dependent where a 100-bed capacity rehabilitation center may need P25.75 million for personal service alone in the six-month program or P51.5 million for one year with 200 patients.
“Can we afford to appropriate that funds based on our budget? P257,000 times 20,000 clients-staffing pa lang, wala pang pagkain -- P5.15 billion for 20,000 clients. ’Yung buong budget buong taon, P3
billion lang, kasama na ang lahat,” Teves said.
Under next year’s P3.35-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB), the Duterte administration has allocated P3.081 billion for drug rehabilitation program under the budget of the Department of Health (DoH) to cover personnel services, maintenance and other operating expenses, and capital outlay.
In his privilege speech before, Teves also proposed that the drug rehabilitation sessions can be conducted in public high schools from
five in the afternoon until eight in the evening to save resources.
He explained that drug users will undergo counselling sessions where the government will only spend P2,500 per addict for the entire duration of a rehabilitation program.
Despite lawmakers’ earlier support to institutionalize the comprehensive community-based programs for recovering drug dependents, they maintained that the creation of rehabilitation centers nationwide will put more teeth on President Duterte’s strong campaign to address the worsening drug menace problem in the country.
This was stressed by Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, Surigao del
Norte Rep. Robert “Ace” Barbers, Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte and Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu after the House committee on dangerous drugs began deliberating pending bills seeking to establish drug rehabilitation centers.
Romualdez, Barbers, Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and other lawmakers backed the recommendation of Reyes, a medical doctor, to establish and maintain outpatient drug treatment and rehabilitation facilities which is cheaper than rehabilitation centers.
The lawmakers’ support for the institutionalization of community-based programs was an offshoot of the position made by Reyes before the panel, citing data from the 2015 United Nations World Drug Report “that only 0.6% to 1% of these individuals who surrender require inpatient care in our treatment and rehabilitation centers.”
“The required medical intervention for the remaining 99% may be introduced by outpatient facilities. Given the huge number of surrendering individuals, it is essential that these outpatient facilities be present in the district or provincial levels so they can immediately avail of required medical interventions,” Reyes said.
In the same hearing, Health Assistant Sec. Elmer Punzalan, a doctor and under the Office for Special Concerns of DoH, told the panel upon questioning of Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop that the P3-billion allocation under next year’s P3.35 trillion GAB 2017 was not enough to address the drug problem in the country.
Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) Vice President
Francisco Soria Jr. also said the PhilHealth is readying an order giving a recovering drug dependent P10,000 under its detoxification