Ex­pan­sion of drug re­hab fa­cil­i­ties

Sun.Star Cebu - - OPINION -

As the na­tion gets ready to mark Drug Abuse Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol Week, the national gov­ern­ment has ear­marked an­other P563 mil­lion to up­grade pub­lic drug ttreat­ment and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ters (TRCs) in 2018.

The fresh fund­ing will be spent to ex­pand the ca­pac­ity of 14 res­i­den­tial drug TRCs across the coun­try to en­able them to ac­com­mo­date additional ad­mis­sions. The new money is specif­i­cally for the “health fa­cil­i­ties en­hance­ment” of 14 TRCs, and not for their main­te­nance and oper­a­tions, which have a sep­a­rate bud­get.

The P563 mil­lion for next year is on top of the P570 mil­lion avail­able this year to im­prove the fa­cil­i­ties of 16 gov­ern­ment-run TRCs. The P563 mil­lion for next year has been set aside to de­velop the fa­cil­i­ties of pub­lic TRCs in Ar­gao, Cebu (P24.2 mil­lion), Cebu City south dis­trict (P25 mil­lion), Cebu (P13 mil­lion) and 11 oth­ers in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try.

Mean­while, the Danger­ous Drugs Board (DDB) should put to good use the 10,000-bed Mega TRC in Fort Magsaysay built through a P1.4-bil­lion do­na­tion of Chi­nese real es­tate ty­coon Huang Ru­lan. Our pro­posal is for the DDB, on a case-to-case ba­sis, to file the ap­pro­pri­ate pe­ti­tions in court so that drug de­pen­dents who es­cape from the cen­ters where they were orig­i­nally sup­posed to un­dergo treat­ment, may be sub­se­quently com­mit­ted to Fort Mag once they sur­ren­der, or once they are sur­ren­dered by their fam­i­lies, within the one-week dead­line pre­scribed by law.

There are many drug de­pen­dents who vol­un­tar­ily sub­mit to con­fine­ment and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, but who later flee from cen­ters. The prob­lem is real. In fact, the Danger­ous Drugs Law it­self has a pro­vi­sion es­pe­cially deal­ing with es­capees from cen­ters.

The law­maker said Fort Mag could also be of ser­vice to drug de­pen­dents vol­un­tar­ily seek­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion for the sec­ond time. The DDB prefers to put drug de­pen­dents in com­mu­nity-based TRCs near their fam­i­lies so they can pro­vide com­plete emo­tional sup­port through vis­its.

Com­mu­nity-based TRCs are good. How­ever, there are also many cases wherein the need to keep a drug de­pen­dent un­der­go­ing ther­apy as far away as pos­si­ble from his usual sources of il­le­gal drugs may out­weigh the need to pro­vide him di­rect emo­tional sup­port.

The Fort Mag Mega TRC has be­come con­tro­ver­sial af­ter DDB chair­man Dion­i­sio San­ti­ago called the fa­cil­ity “im­prac­ti­cal” and a “mis­take” due to the high cost of main­tain­ing it. San­ti­ago has since been forced to re­sign his post due to his fail­ure to bring his ap­pre­hen­sions about the Fort Mag fa­cil­ity to Pres­i­dent Duterte’s at­ten­tion, and for pub­licly crit­i­ciz­ing an ad­min­is­tra­tion project.-Rep. Johnny T. Pi­mentel, Suri­gao del Sur

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