It’s a mistake

A Chinese billionaire donated a 10,000-bed treatment and rehabilitation center for drug users. This is at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija. This made President Duterte excited during his State-of-the-Nation Address; I was skeptical.

I know, a thing or two about rehabilitating drug addicts. For years I was vice president at DARE Foundation. I know that rehabilitation must be community based. It is strong on the role of the family.

I know, too that children who turn to drugs have family problems—a father who is a womanizer, for instance, or a mother who neglects her responsibilities.

Thus, when former chief of staff, prisons director and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Dionisio Santiago called the 10,000-bed plan “impractical” and “a mistake,” I agreed with him wholeheartedly.

Unfortunately, the President did not like what Santiago said. Thus Santiago was told by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea that the President wants him to resign.

That’s too bad. Santiago is one man with honesty and integrity.

As prisons director, Santiago used to tell me of the anomalies at the New Bilibid Prison—leaves for high-profile inmates, drug trade, corruption.

I don’t know what President Duterte would do with that impractical, P50-billion rehabilitation center.

I wrote earlier that the drug problem must be seen holistically. The greater problem is rehabilitating the users. So long as there is demand for illegal drugs, there will be supply.

The President must be told that when government appointees criticize, they do it out of their good intentions. Santiago and those who dare speak their minds are so much better than the lap dogs around Mr. Duterte.

* * *

The Department of Transportation has canceled the maintenance contract between MRT 3 and BURI. The company is clearly responsible for the glitches in the rail system. But how about those responsible for the anomalous contract?

Hundreds of thousands of commuters suffer daily because of their doing.

What the MRT 3 needs at the moment is complete rehabilitation. These days when you take the train, you should say your prayers because you never know what could happen.

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade needs to bring back people’s faith in the public transport system. This is on top of the daily traffic gridlock many of us have to endure.

* * *

Diehard supporters of President Duterte have taken Spokesman Harry Roque to task for defending mainstream media.

I am not a fan of Roque. I have always seen him as a loudmouth even when he was still handling high-profile human rights cases. But what he said was correct.

It was indeed mainstream media that reported on the inadequacies of the Pnoy administration, and paved the way for the victory of Duterte because people believed he represented the change that the country needed.

What strikes me as ridiculous is that the pro-Duterte bloggers want to have monopoly of access to the President.

Bloggers do not have the responsibility and accountability of mainstream media.

* * *

The Philippines got a double whammy from international organizations last week. We ranked lower on ease of doing business here than we did last year, and we had the highest score for impunity.

All these are threatening our prospect for more investors and tourists.

I say, there is still time to correct these perceptions.

Topics: Fort Magsaysay , Rehabilitation Center
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