We respect the opinion of former President Cesar Gaviria that Colombia’s experience of “war against drugs” cannot be won by the armed forces and law enforcement agencies alone.
The Philippine President rightly understood the same insight when he began to address not just crime and illegal drugs but also broadened government efforts into a public health issue.
The second phase of the President’s anti-drug campaign focuses on the treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependents. More than a national security problem, the proliferation of drugs in the country has been regarded as a health pandemic. A 2,500-patient capacity Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DATRC) in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija was inaugurated last November. Another drug rehabilitation center, the Residential Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (RTRC) in Agusan del Sur — the first to open in a military camp in Mindanao – was likewise opened last year. In addition, Philhealth, the government’s national health insurance program, now covers a two-week drug rehabilitation program reserved at P10,000 per member.
It is unfortunate that international attention to the drug war in the Philippines centers on drug-related killings rather than the breakthroughs of the campaign. However, we appreciate the ex-Colombian president’s concerns and we encourage our people to see our situation in the light of comprehensive nation-building.