Panelo: Drug dependents are ‘potential criminals’

AN OFFICIAL on Sunday described drug dependents as “potential criminals” and stressed the need to sustain the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs

“If you have three-million drug addicts, you have three-million potential criminals. Many drug-related crimes come from there’’ Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo told dzMM radio.

“That is why the President said ‘I will not allow this generation to be affected by that’.”

Panelo said the drug war had been “successful’’ despite the presence of some scalawag policemen. 

He said thousands of drug suspects had surrendered while several top policemen with drug links were removed from the service.

President Rodrigo Duterte claims the country has about three-million drug users. He also claims using shabu for a year or more would shrink a person’s brain and make his rehabilitation “useless.

The Duterte administration has rejected criticism that it lacks the commitment to rehabilitate drug users.

In August, then Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said eight drug rehabilitation centers would be built across the Philippines and financed by private firms, including conglomerate San Miguel Corp. and property firm Megaworld.

Last year, the government opened what it called a “mega” drug rehabilitation facility financed by a Chinese tycoon that would  treat up to 10,000 patients

The Duterte administration’s 13 rehabilitation facilities treated 14,733 out-patients in 2016, up more than three times from the previous year, and close to 30,000 in-patients or up four percent over 2015, the Department of Health said.

However, the department submitted a budget of P759.6 million for state-managed rehabilitation facilities under the government’s proposed 2018 spending plan, which is 75 percent less than this year’s budget of P3.08 billion.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government proposed to raise the budget for police anti-drug operations from P20 million to P900 million this year, according to several lawmakers.

The Philippine National Police data show 3,800 people have been killed in operations in which police say armed suspects violently resisted arrest. 

Duterte’s opponents and activists dispute that, saying executions and coverups are commonplace but which the police deny.

Earlier this month, Duterte ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to lead the narcotics war, putting police in the backseat as it faced allegations of abuse.

PDEA has said it is short of manpower and will still need to tap police reinforcements in their operations.

Topics: Drug dependents , “potential criminals” , Duterte administration , War on drugs , Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
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