PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the establishment of an interagency task force to put up and support drug rehabilitation centers, as the government deals with the deluge of drug users turning themselves in to authorities.
Duterte has signed Executive Order (EO) No. 4 calling for the opening of drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers throughout the country.
Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno will head the task force, with the Health secretary and the chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board as vice chairmen.
Other members of the task force are the Social Welfare secretary, the Budget secretary, the director general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and a representative of the Office of the President.
With drug surrenderers reaching more than 700,000, the EO was issued “to provide an effective mechanism or measures to re-integrate into society individuals, who have fallen victim to drug abuse or dangerous drug dependence, through sustainable programs of treatment and rehabilitation.”
The task force was directed to establish drug rehabilitation centers in military camps to address congestion in existing drug centers. The Defense secretary and Armed Forces chief of staff will sit as additional members of the task force, as needed, in discussions involving military reservations.
The Department of Health (DOH) will maintain and operate drug rehabilitation centers in the country, including those in military camps.
The EO said funding “shall be sourced from the appropriations of the members of the task force and other applicable funding sources, subject to pertinent laws, rules and regulations.”
Budgetary requirements for the succeeding fiscal years will be incorporated in the budget proposals of concerned agencies, the EO stated.
In addition, each department and agency represented in the task force “may receive donations and other forms of assistance in accordance with applicable laws and issuances” for purposes relevant to the implementation of the EO.
Duterte earlier said a China-funded drug rehabilitation center was nearing completion at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.
As of October 13, at least 740,245 drug dependents have surrendered since the government started its campaign against illegal drugs last July, figures from the Philippine National Police showed.
Of the surrenderers, over 686,000 were drug users, while more than 53,000 were pushers. Only about 500 people have been admitted to rehabilitation centers.