• Senator says drug use health issue

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    SENATOR Francis Pangilinan on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte should look at continued drug use by many Filipinos as a health issue, not a law enforcement problem.

    Pangilinan made the statement even as he defended fellow Liberal Party member and ex-President Benigno Aquino 3rd from the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte, who was criticized by the former leader for his war on drugs.

    The President on Wednesday called Aquino “gago” (stupid) for saying that his war on drugs produced “nothing.”

    Pangilinan, a member of the Senate minority bloc, is acting LP president while Aquino is chairman emeritus.

    “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,” the senator said.

    “Dagdag pa, hindi naman kailangan murahin at insultuhin ang kapwa natin kung hindi natin sinasangayunan ang sinasabi nito [In addition, there is no need to curse and insult anyone if we don’t agree with his view],” he added.

    Sen. Risa Hontiveros, also a member of the minority group, earlier filed 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.

    “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,” the senator said.

    “My bill seeks to fundamentally replace President Duterte’s bloody and abusive war on drugs. If the government recognizes my bill as a viable public health approach to the drug problem, then I urge it to prioritize the passage of the bill, stop its flawed drug war and replace it with an alternative public health strategy. Otherwise, it would be just empty posturing and riding on the bill,” she added.

    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.

    BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO

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