Bill wants to add drug rehab in PhilHealth coverage

MANILA, Philippines – In a bid to help in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, a Bulacan legislator filed a bill expanding the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to benefit members who seek help for rehabilitation.

Under Bulacan 4th District Representative Linabelle Villarica’s House Bill Number 1642, PhilHealth would be mandated to provide its members involved in drugs with affordable treatment and rehabilitation at accredited health care providers across the country.

“The State must encourage more drug dependents to undergo treatment and rehabilitation, at low-cost drug rehabilitation centers,” said Villarica in her explanatory note.  

Drug dependents would be given room and board, services from health care providers, and drugs and biological prescription necessary for their rehabilitation. 

“This is in accordance with Republic Act (RA) Number 7875 or An Act Instituting a National Health Insurance Program for all Filipinos and Establishing the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation as amended by RA Number 9241 which included drug abuse and dependency treatment as among those personal services covered. It also recognized rehabilitation centers as health institutions where health care providers are employed,” said Villarica. 

Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs has led to about 500 alleged drug pushers and users killed in police operations. That’s on top of the more than 200 supposed drug personalities that media networks estimated to have been executed by apparent vigilante groups. (READ: War on drugs: While you were sleeping)

More than 100,000 drug suspects have surrendered to the authorities through Oplan Tokhang, where cops knock on doors of suspected users and pushers to give them a chance to change their ways. 

The Philippine government, however, struggles with the sudden surge of those who surrendered due to lack of facilities needed for drug rehabilitation. (READ: Rising number of users seeking drug rehab is a 'happy problem' but…)

Three other legislators have since filed a bill seeking to build drug rehabilitation centers for the poor in every legislative district. –

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.