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Duterte can’t just rely on cops to end drugs – Mayor Osmeña

Rambo Talabong

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Duterte can’t just rely on cops to end drugs – Mayor Osmeña
'We're very poor in rehabilitation,' says Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña

MANILA, Philippines – Law enforcement alone will not end the drug problem in the country, said Cebu City Mayor Tomas “Tommy” Osmeña, stressing the need to bring drug users “back to mainstream society.”

“It’s a very complicated issue, because handling drugs is not only police action. It can be socioeconomic action – the issue of livelihood. These are the things that help promote drugs or can reduce drugs,” Osmeña said in a Rappler Talk interview on Friday, August 11. 

Duterte, in other words, “should develop other means of attacking the problem,” said Osmeña, who himself takes a hardline stance against illegal drugs. (READ: Cebu killings rose after new police chiefs came – Mayor Osmeña)

“We’re very poor in rehabilitation. There are some models I see that’s working but we’re generally very poor,” the Cebu City mayor said.

Osmeña admitted that even in his city, they find it difficult to help drug surrenderers en masse. They tried recruiting them as carpenters, for instance, but this has been hard. (READ: Barangay officials make tough choices in the drug war)

“Drug addicts are so difficult to train. They’re spoiled, they fight with each other, they steal your tools,” he said. But, he added, they will not give up on them.

“It does not mean we should give it up. We should find a way to bring them back to mainstream society,” he said.

The Duterte administration said around 1.4 million drug surrenderers and suspects are eligible for rehabilitation, but its frontline agencies have treated only around 160,000 of them. (READ: No ‘real number’ on drug rehab: Here’s why) –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.