• EDITORIAL

    Opposition’s issue with the drug war

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    Some critics of Malacañang who are also allies of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd recently pointed out, again, that the government’s war on drugs is being waged on the wrong premises.

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    Sen. Francis Pangilinan of the Liberal Party on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte should look at continued drug use by many Filipinos as a “health” issue, not just a law-enforcement problem.

    Sen. Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan party-list agreed with Pangilinan and said the matter is also about “justice.”

    According to an online report, the use of methamphetamine or methamphetamine hydrochloride, in particular, only becomes a health concern if it is prescribed as “Desoxyn” by some doctors for a child diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

    It also apparently has some use in the treatment of obesity. “A few decades ago, stimulants similar to methamphetamine were broadly used for weight loss but the [drugs]became more restricted in use after [their]abuse and addictive potential were realized,” the report said.

    Methamphetamine is “a highly addictive drug with some of the harshest physical effects of any drug. The fact that just one or a few uses can trap a person in addiction means that even if a user sees the physical deterioration occurring, he [or she]may not be able to stop the damage. An addict very often needs help to stop abusing the substance he is addicted to.”

    In the Philippines, however, methamphetamine hydrochloride has morphed into the illegal drug shabu, becoming a social, economic and political issue because it earns billions for its pushers in high places like the Espinosas and the Parojinogs even as it ruins the lives of its possibly millions of users mostly in wretched hovels across the country.

    If Pangilinan, who is not a doctor, insists that drug use—apparently he was referring to shabu—is also a medical issue, then methamphetamine hydrochloride would have been sold openly in his friendly neighborhood botica to treat the hyperactive and the obese.

    Obviously, it is not, but the senator is unstoppable, saying, “We believe that addressing the drug problem should be viewed primarily as a health problem with the corresponding rehabilitation programs for those afflicted, not simply viewed as a law-enforcement problem.”

    Pangilinan should be throwing his statements at the former president who, in his six years in the Palace, did nothing to stop the drug menace that it was shocking to hear him say that the Duterte crackdown on illegal drugs produced “nothing.”

    Well, Aquino could have put up drugstores where shabu were to be sold to heal Filipinos who, once cured of their ailment, would have no need for police to watch their every move later because they have turned into law-abiding citizens through shabu use!

    Hontiveros, meanwhile, recognizes “drug addiction” and has come up with Senate Bill 1313, or the Barangay Health and Rehabilitation Strategy, which proposes “a scientific, rights-based and evidence-based public health approach in responding to the country’s drug problem.”

    Such recognition, however, comes more than a year too late, President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs having taken off right after he assumed the presidency in June 2016.

    Hontiveros, being the defender of the oppressed and the voiceless, has virtually called Duterte a murderer.

    “The Duterte government cannot kill its way out of the drug problem. Drug addiction is not simply a law and order concern. More important, it is a public health and justice issue,” she said.

    SB 1313 seeks to create health intervention and rehabilitation programs and centers for drug dependents based in the barangay (villages) to be able to provide intervention programs to respond to the assessed needs of drug dependents, which include consultation, case management, psycho-education, counseling, health and social support, relapse management and other evidence-based health interventions and strategies.

    Hontiveros, or even Pangilinan for that matter, is not putting her money where her mouth is, apparently not knowing that the barangay districts are conceded to be breeding places for shabu users, usually the jobless, the unlettered who, if we have to remind both senators, are easy targets for narco politicians in the grassroots.

    But we will remind Hontiveros and Pangilinan that the “effects of methamphetamine [the prescription drug]on the body and the mind are brutal.”

    Don’t get us started on methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu.

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