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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

House consolidates bills on drug rehabs

THE House committee on dangerous drugs has approved the creation of a technical working group that will consolidate all 27 proposals pertaining to the creation of drug rehabilitation centers in various areas in the country, including the proposal of Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez seeking to create the Palo Drug Rehabilitation Center.

The committee, headed by Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, vowed to fast-track the crafting of the measure after it approved the TWG creation during its recent hearing prior to the congressional break last Oct.

Romualdez stressed the need for Congress to enact a law that will empower the state    to put up rehabilitation centers nationwide will put more teeth on President Rodrigo Duterte’s strong campaign to address the worsening drug menace problem in the country.

“What we should establish are centers that will help reform drug users, facilities that will offer counseling, spiritual development and livelihood training,” Romualdez explained in her House Bill 345 seeking to establish a drug rehabilitation center to be known as the Palo Drug Rehabilitation Center.

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte and Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu echoed Romualdez’s position.

Villafuerte, author of HB 265 seeking to establish a drug rehabilitation center in Libmanan in Camarines Sur, urged the national government to set up more drug rehabilitation facilities in Bicol and elsewhere in the country where there have been a surge of drug dependents surrendering to the authorities as an upshot of the Duterte administration’s tough war against narco-trafficking.

“Transforming a life of addiction to a life of recovery and sobriety takes time and the proper facilities. We need to have enough rehabilitation centers to help drug dependents rebuild their lives and become productive once more in the family, at work, and in society,” said Villafuerte.

Barbers said the committee members agreed that the consolidation of all bills on the establishment of drug rehabilitation centers in the country will fast-track finalization of a substitute measure whose eventual enactment into law will greatly help in reforming and improving the lives of drug dependents.

Of the 27 proposals seeking the establishment of drug rehabilitation centers, seven bills want these set up in the regions, four bills pertain to provincial centers, two on legislative districts, five on cities, and eight on specific centers. Meanwhile, one bill seeks an affordable drug rehabilitation treatment for Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) members.

Barbers, along with other committee members, cited the urgency of putting up drug rehabilitation centers in the country, noting that many drug users have already surrendered and volunteered to undergo drug rehabilitation.

Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu of Batangas said the immediate enactment into law of their House Bill 9, which seeks to put up a drug rehabilitation center in every region, will start the comprehensive process of changing lives and bringing the drug dependents back to their families and communities.

House Bill 9 is also authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, along with several other House leaders.

Abu stressed that 1.7-million drug dependents in the country, per the data of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), stand to benefit from their proposal.

“According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), more than 8,000 barangays, or 92 percent of barangays in Metro Manila alone, are said to be drug-affected, which leads to health problems, loss of employment, increase in school dropout, domestic violence, commission of more crimes, and worse, death,” said Abu.

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