Senator proposes public health approach to antidrug campaign

Senator Rissa Hotiveros.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday filed a bill that would shift the government’s policy in fighting the country’s drug problem “from punishment to treatment.”

The measure would replace or provide an alternative health and law enforcement strategy to the bloody war against drugs, which President Duterte suspended last week following allegations of police abuses and human rights violations.

“The suspension of ‘Oplan Double Barrel’ is a recognition that crime and punishment is not effective. We cannot kill our way out of the drug problem,” Hontiveros said at a news conference.

Senate Bill No. 1313 would create a Drug Use Bureau to implement “an integrated and comprehensive public health approach” to drug-related issues.

Hontiveros cited data from the Dangerous Drugs Board that showed 91 percent of 1 million drug users had expressed willingness to undergo treatment.

“Without any government program to address their needs, they remain in the kill list,” she said.