Bill seeks to build drug rehab centers for the poor

Mara Cepeda
Bill seeks to build drug rehab centers for the poor

AFP

'Drug addicts are not wasted human capital. There is always a chance for change,' says AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe, author of the proposal

MANILA, Philippines – AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe said on Thursday, July 7, that his top priority is to create more drug rehabilitation centers for poor Filipinos nationwide.

Batocabe, together with other AKO Bicol representatives Alfredo Garbin Jr and Christopher Co, filed House Bill Number 132 or the “Accessible Drug Rehabilitation Treatment Act.” It seeks to create state-funded drug rehabilitation centers in every legislative district.

“Drug addicts are not wasted human capital. There is always a chance for change, a chance for reformation, and a chance for reintegration into society. Through this bill, we hope to give drug addicts a second lease in life,” said Batocabe. 

According to the Dangerous Drugs Board, the country currently has 45 residential treatment and rehabilitation centers, 18 of which are funded by the government and the remaining 27 are privately owned. 

For Botacabe, it is the state’s responsibility to protect Filipinos’ health. 

Under HB 132, the Department of Health (DOH), along with concerned agencies, would oversee the operations of the rehab centers .  

They will determine where it is most strategic to put up the rehabilitation centers, with help from the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development would also formulate the “socialized rates” for the cost of the health services in the rehabilitation centers, depending on the financial capacity of the patient.

“Our President [Rodrigo Duterte] has been clear with his mandate to eradicate the persistent problem of drugs in the Philippines. I fully and whole-heartedly support him in this mission to have a drug-free Philippines, but we also cannot ignore those afflicted with drug-related problems, such as abuse and addiction,” said Batocabe. 

Duterte’s tough stance against crime and the use of illegal drugs has led to an increase of drug suspects being killed by policemen in alleged shootouts

But the President’s anti-crime war also caused a recent boom of drug users who voluntarily surrender to the authorities for rehabilitation and treatment. (READ: Rising number of users seeking drug rehab is a ‘happy problem’ but…)

“I am confident this (bill) is one step toward that direction. It’s a win-win situation for both the Philippines and the drug addict because the State can add more to the number of its fully functioning, productive citizens, and the drug addict does not have to break the bank to be cured,” he said.

The full copy of HB 132 is found below:

 Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.