Senators: Where did ‘Tokhang’ victims go?
MANILA, Philippines — With 1.7 million drug dependents in the country, why are there rehabilitation centers that are either not utilized or underutilized?
Baffled senators raised this issue on Monday just before the Senate wrapped up its floor deliberations on the proposed budget of the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for 2020.
In his home province in Bukidnon, for instance, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said a P700-million rehabilitation center donated by “Friends of the Philippines Foundation” has been underutilized.
Zubiri said the facility only has 80 patients when it could accommodate up to 700 patients per cycle.
“It’s underutilized, Sir. May we request the Dangerous Drug Board, saan lahat po ng Tokhang ng PNP (Philippine National Police)? Libo-libo ‘yung tinokhang sa Region 10 pero 80 lang ang nasa loob,” he said.
(It’s underutilized. Sir. May we request the Dangerous Drug Board, where are the drug suspects tagged by PNP. There had been thousands of drug suspects in Region 10 but only 80 are in the rehab center.)
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who was defending the budgets of DDB and PDEA, said the low admission number of drug suspects only indicates that the local government unit (LGU) was efficient in fighting illegal drugs in their area.
“Underutilized nga not because hindi nagagamit ‘yung full capacity, wala talagang nagpapa-admit kasi maganda nga ‘yung programa. This is according to DDB, not according to me. I’m not here to please you pero ‘yan talaga nag reality sa ground,” Lacson said.
(It was underutilized not because it was not being used in full capacity but because no one is admitted because their (LGU) programs are good. This is according to DDB, not according to me. I’m not here to please you but that is the reality on the ground.)
“’Pag magaling ‘yung LGU sa pag-attend dun sa community-based effort dun sa drug prevention, wala talagang papasok. Anyway, we should be happy. We should not feel sad na underutilized, na konti lang pasyente…”
(If the LGU is good in attending to community-based efforts on drug prevention, no one will really be admitted in the rehab center, Anyway, we should be happy. We should not feel sad that it’s underutilized, that there are only a few patients.)
Unlike in Bukidnon, not a single drug suspect has been admitted to a drug rehabilitation center in Las Piñas, Senator Cynthia Villar said.
Villar said the facility is being run by the Department of Health and was even inaugurated by President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2018.
“And up to now there are no patients. But it is being operated by DOH, not by the drug rehab agency. I think the DOH is having a hard time operating our drug facility,” she said.
Lacson then wondered why his colleagues were saddened, instead of being happy, that those rehabilitation centers have no patients.
“I see your point. But you know, knowing that there are more than 1.7 million drug dependents in the country, it’s surprising…” Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon offered another theory of why there were only few drug suspects admitted in the Bukidnon rehabilitation center.
“Baka po lahat sa Bukidnon nabiktima ng Tokhang, nandun na sa ibang quarters… kaya po wala dun,” Drilon said.
Zubiri could be heard saying, apparently in jest: “Baka nakalibing na…”
Edited by KGA
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