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True measure of antidrug campaign’s success

01:32 AM August 29, 2016

WHAT SEEMS to be the indicator of success for the current intensive government campaign against drugs is the body count: nearly 2,000 dead as we write (60 percent by vigilantes), and more than half a million “surrenderees” among the country’s estimated three million drug users and pushers.

Lamentably, almost all those killed are from the tsinelas crowd, prompting some to label the drug campaign as a war against the poor.

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Lamentably also, there is a sore lack of drug rehabilitation facilities in the country. The government plans to build these, but in the meantime the drug user- and pusher-surrenderees are left to their own devices. Invariably they return to their drug habits. Some have been killed by the police or vigilantes as a result.

Perhaps the better measure of success for the government’s drug campaign should be the number of addicts rehabilitated and returned to society as useful and productive citizens. This is where the Catholic Church and other churches can play a big role. The churches should graduate from being mere critics of the drug campaign to concretely doing something to help solve the pandemic Philippine drug problem in a significant way.

They have both the material and manpower resources for this. The Catholic Church, for example, has around 3,000 parishes, 80 dioceses and archdioceses, hundreds of schools (some of which are the best in the country), hundreds of hospitals, thousands of retreat houses, and thousands of skilled professionals, such as priests (8,000), nuns, teachers, doctors, nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists. In short, it has about everything to conduct a veritable drug rehabilitation program. What is needed is to craft an effective and holistic drug rehabilitation program which will address all the aspects of drug addiction: medical, psychological, psychiatric, spiritual, motivational, educational, livelihood, etc. Perhaps a formal tie-up with the government through its agencies—e.g., the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Bureau of Corrections, Philippine National Police, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Education—could be effected, wherein each would identify and contribute its share for the design and implementation of this program. To ensure participation, the PNP could require a drug surrenderee to attend the rehabilitation program in his/her town or parish. A suitable monitoring and follow-up process could also be crafted to ensure permanent rehabilitation.

Drug rehabilitation is an area wherein both Church and State can fruitfully cooperate. The saber-rattling against each other should cease. Both should instead work together for the common good. The true measure of success for the antidrug campaign is not the body count, but the number of drug addicts rehabilitated and returned to society as useful citizens.

—SAMUEL J. YAP, [email protected]

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TAGS: campaign, drugs, letter, Letter to the Editor, opinion, rehabilitation, surrender
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