Last of two parts
As a side note, I would like to commend and congratulate my colleague and kababayan, as I am half-Bicolano, Representative Batocabe, on his speech regarding the need for the establishment of more rehabilitation centers yesterday. This representation shares your sentiment and supports your cause.
As thoroughly discussed by Representative Batocabe yesterday, rehabilitation centers should provide the proper assessment for drug-users who have voluntarily surrendered themselves to the police or the barangay chair as head of the BADAC, or upon the issuance of a regional court order upon prosecution; and recommend appropriate action to be undertaken for the said drug-dependent.
The center should also provide for psychosocial therapy, cognitive therapy, counseling, and coping mechanisms to ensure a patient’s best chances of reintegrating back to his or her respective community.
In Dagupan City, our drug rehabilitation center was set up with a bed capacity of 300 people, through the efforts of my father, former Speaker Jose de Venecia, and my mother, former Congresswoman Gina de Venecia. However, even with a bed capacity of 300 people, our rehabilitation center is struggling to accommodate the recent influx of drug dependent patients coming from Regions 1, 2, and the Cordillera Administrative Region.
It is only logical that the President’s war against drugs serves as impetus to expand the facility to accommodate in-patient services and dormitories for female drug-users, as well as minors.
As the campaign against drugs becomes increasingly successful, we call upon said drug rehabilitation centers to be proactive and capacitate social workers or qualified health practitioners at the municipal or barangay level, with the help of local government, to be able to make the proper drug assessment and recommend appropriate action.
I also call on the DOH to assist in augmenting the availability of health workers necessary for this task, especially in light of the influx of voluntary surrenders.
Most importantly, I am pushing for an increase of the budget of the DOH, which is direly needed to effectively implement the proposed solutions I have mentioned herein.
1. On the part of media conglomerates, celebrity culture, and mass media, it is imperative that government work hand in hand with them in the propagation of drug prevention, measures and mechanisms. I would like to enjoin my colleagues who are knowledgeable in the entertainment sector to work with our office to craft legislation on providing incentive and recognition for those who voluntarily broadcast or publish creative and meaningful public service announcements on drug prevention. More importantly, the media can help underscore the insidiousness of the culture of drug addiction in the country, and that it is first and foremost, a priority health issue that demands our utmost attention.
The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) may also be enjoined to regulate and supervise films, television shows, advertisements and publicity materials that are discriminatory in nature against drug users. In a time of great crisis brought about by the vast proliferation of drugs and narcotics in our country, our cultural and media practitioners should be less exploitative with regards to their themes and leitmotifs; rather, be more informative, proactive and collaborative.
2. Pending the completion and expansion of new modern rehabilitation centers across the archipelago, I also echo President Duterte’s call for the conversion of some portions of military camps into interim rehabilitation and drug assessment centers, and might I add, unused public buildings that can be re-appropriated for such purpose.
These are just some of the many synergies we can explore in our fight against drugs. There are opportunities to be explored in enjoining cultural agencies organized under the Office of the President, the National Youth Commission, even the religious sector to support this initiative. This proposed multi-sectoral approach to the war on drugs, under President Duterte’s leadership, could set a model for the whole world – one that is not isolationist and exclusive but collaborative and inclusive.
A social reintegration program for rehabilitated individuals
Reintegration after rehabilitation is not an easy task. The rehabilitated individual is confronted by a range of social, economic and personal challenges rooted in the stigma of drug abuse. To ensure the success of a rehabilitated individual’s reintegration back to his or her community and avoid any relapse into drug use, support mechanisms and regular monitoring should be conducted by local government and concerned agencies.
One possible sustaining mechanism is the creation of employment and livelihood opportunities for rehabilitated individuals, which could also serve as incentive for those undergoing rehabilitation. This can be spearheaded by the DSWD in cooperation with DTI and DOLE by coming up with cash-for-work initiatives, skills training programs, as well as strategic partnerships with social eratives and social cooperatives and social enterprise businesses. I call on TESDA to assist the DSWD by utilizing alternative learning systems in capacity-building for said livelihood opportunities. Furthermore, I am enjoining NCCA to provide artistic opportunities for the rehabilitated individual that would cultivate talent and free expression.
Finally, non-discrimination policies must be in place to protect the rehabilitated individuals and ensure his or her reintegration back into the community.
Drug problem as a priority
Some of the ideas that I have mentioned earlier are contained in the two House Bills that I am filing within the week: An Act Providing For The Prevention Of Drug Use Among High Risk Individuals And For The Rehabilitation Of Drug Users and An Act Providing For The Social Reintegration And Monitoring Of Rehabilitated Individuals.
I therefore seek the support of my esteemed colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate, under the leadership of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., in passing the said legislation to complement President Duterte’s unprecedented war on drugs.
I also enjoin the House of Representatives and the Senate’s Appropriations and Health Committees to increase the national health budget, with increases dedicated to:
1) the expansion and modernization of existing rehabilitation centers in the country such as the ones found in Davao, Pangasinan, Cebu, Zamboanga, Albay, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Negros Occidental and Leyte;
2) the implementation of Section 75 of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002”, that mandate the establishment of drug rehabilitation centers in each province; and
3) the improvement and effective implementation of drug assessment and monitoring programs for our regional health centers and even in the level of the barangay.
My dear colleagues, I pray that you will support these bills, and carry out your own investigations on the matter because we cannot allow ore blood o be shed because of drug abuse. We all have the moral fortitude to carry out the responsibility of launching a parallel national effort in reducing and mitigating the demand for narcotics and illegal drugs. But truth be told, we also need funds and the sense of urgency to fulfil it.
Dr. Jose izal once said that “the youth is the hope of our future.” Sadly, the young people today are in trouble, because, based on a report by the Dangerous Drugs Board, the mean age of drug dependents in our country is 20-to-29 years old. This serves as an ominous warning to us all – that if we cannot eradicate the drug problem in our country, it certainly is just a matter of time, before it wipes out an entire generation and our prospect as a nation.
I believe that by working together, we shall overcome the drug problem plaguing our country. Thus, my dear colleagues, let us all collaborate and support each other in finding and crafting alternative, viable, creative and peaceful solutions to come out victorious in this war on drugs.
Thank you very much!