In the first half of President Duterte’s term, tokhang was the byword in the government’s war on illegal drugs.
Now that the President is on legacy mode, the anti-illegal drugs campaign should start shifting to reform and rehabilitation.
“Naramdaman na ng mga tulak at gumagamit ng ilegal na droga ang kamay na bakal ng administration. Makaraan ng tatlong taon, sa tingin ko ay kahit paano hindi na kasing tindi ng nakaraan ang pagtutulak ng droga sa bansa,” Angara said.
“Panahon na para baguhin ang imahe ng ating gobyerno, hindi lang sa ating mga kababayan, kundi pati sa mga dayuhan na nagoobserba sa ating kampanya laban sa droga,” he added.
To complement the “soft” approach to fighting illegal drugs, Angara is pushing for the establishment of a National Anti-Illegal Drug Campaign and Research Program (AIDCARE), which aims to reform victims of substance abuse.
“Naniniwala ako na karamihan ng mga taong nalulong sa droga ay nagnanais na magbago at mabuhay muli ng normal. Obligasyon ng gobyerno na tulungan sila dito,” Angara said.
Under Senate Bill 765 filed by Angara, a multi-faceted approach to fighting illegal drugs will be adopted through AIDCARE.
It starts with the creation of a national education and awareness program on illegal drugs, which involves the inclusion of the subject either in the K to 12 curriculum or instituted as a regular and frequent co-curricular activity or event done in all public schools covering all levels of basic education.
A national helpline for drug abuse will be established to provide assistance to the drug users, either by referring them to the rehabilitation centers or to provide immediate paramedic response in emergency cases.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will come up and and maintain a public registry of drug dealers, pushers and traffickers who have already been convicted.
In order for the government to have an effective campaign against illegal drugs, the bill tasks the Dangerous Drugs Board, in cooperation with the Department of Interior and Local Government and PDEA to conduct a nationwide study on the nature and extent of drug abuse. The results of the study would be submitted to the Office of the President and Congress.
A review of all existing anti-illegal drugs programs will also be conducted by the three agencies to ensure that these are in sync with the national anti-illegal drugs program.
“The drug menace is something that we should continue to address. What we want to do with this bill is to look at the other side of the coin, which is the rehabilitation of the users as part of the overall solution,” Angara said.