The Fight vs Drug Abuse

Manila Bulletin, September 7, 2001 | Go to article overview

The Fight vs Drug Abuse


ON 28 September 1992, almost 9 years ago, I delivered my maiden privilege speech in the halls of the Senate on the vision of having a Drug-Free Philippines.

Today, I am afraid we are nowhere near that goal. The often-quoted number of our drug users is placed at 1.8 million. If it is any consolation, this has been the same number I have been speaking of in the last several years. Based on present statistical data, this translates to something like, 1 for every Filipino clan. In other words in this hall, bawa't isang pamilya ay may isang drug dependent.

But looking at the total picture, we cannot say outright that our country is becoming a narco-state because we are not totally helpless in fighting this drug menace. The direction that government is taking at present may be misdirected at times, but given the proper guidance, we can still get out of the rut we are in right now.

A "narcostate" - Columbia may have earned that monicker for supplying around 90 percent of the cocaine requirements of the United States and for this they are receiving billions of dollars in narco-aid under the US Drug Control Policy Program.

Now, related to this, allow me to quote the report of the Dangerous Drugs Board on the matter. This is contained in an analysis on the incidence and prevalence of drug abuse in the Philippines as reported by the Dangerous Drugs Board as of July of 2001. And within, one will find Residential Center's Admissions from 1974 to 2000; the Trend Analysis from 1973 to 2000; the Admissions of Rehabilitation Patients in Centers from 1985 to 2000; the Trend in Out-Patient Centers; the National Household Survey on the Extend of Drug Abuse in the Philippines; the Data on the Number of Arrested Persons in Violation of Republic Act No. 6425; Results of the Surveys; the Population Estimates Based on the Results of the Study and Other Drug Related Arrests in Violation of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, from 1972 to 1999. And I will read the conclusion:

"With the information presented, the Dangerous Drugs Board stood firm on its contention that the drug abuse situation in the country with regard to the number of abusers is not so alarming as to be another Columbia in the making. Statistical data of admitted cases in the residential and outpatient centers and law enforcement reports are concrete information, however, when inversely proportioned to the general population of 10-44 years old of CY 2000, based on the projections of Philippine population of 1999, is less than one percent and is insignificant."

The battle against drug abuse is fought on many fronts not just in the area of drug enforcement. To combat the problem of drug abuse and illegal drugs, worldwide research and studies have proven that there must be a wholistic approach. Prevention, rehabilitation, and drug enforcement must be anchored on two important strategies: (1) The supply reduction strategy and (2) The demand reduction strategy. International studies have proven that for a drug control strategy program to be successful, the bulk of the concentration, or approximately 75%, should be targeted towards the demand reduction strategy.

To concretize the point, let me quote the empirical data from the United States Drug Institute. In 1995, the United States spent $13 billion on drug enforcement. In the same year, they spent $300 million on prevention and rehabilitation.

However, in 1997, institute records showed that the money they spent on rehabilitation and prevention which was merely $300 million were more successful than the $13 billion spent on enforcement. They were able to take away from the streets for rehabilitation hundreds of drug dependents, more than the number of drugs they were able to seize or intercept from the criminal elements.

So, I know that this will work in the same way here in the Philippines because it had been done before. I have personally experienced this when I was elected Vice Mayor of Quezon City in 1988. …

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