Government agencies outline drug rehab program

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Tanauan drug suspects surrender to authorities. (File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Representatives from concerned government agencies met Tuesday to iron out the details of an improved drug rehabilitation program, meant for drug users who surrender to authorities.

The inter-agency task force, spearheaded by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), includes the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Technical Skills and Development Authority (TESDA), Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), and Philippine National Police (PNP).

Drug users will first be profiled by the DOH to determine who among them are experimental, occasional or heavy compulsive users and drug dependents. This will help authorities in determining the suitable treatment for each one, which may be a center-based or community-based rehabilitation program.

Read: DOH plans to include drug rehab in PhilHealth coverage

The center-based rehabilitation will be managed by the DOH.

Concerned barangays and parishes will focus on community-based rehabilitation with participation from community volunteers and relatives of the drug users.

A Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council will also be revived to run the community-based program starting this week. The council has its own budget to also hold information and education programs on curbing illegal drugs.

Read: Quezon City to come up with database for drug suspects

"There is really no need for structure kasi ang kailangan dito existing structure na. Classrooms, public schools," Cuy said.

[Translation: "There really is no need for structure because what we need here is an existing structure. Classrooms, public schools."]

Data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) show over 114,000 drug users and pushers have surrendered from July 1 to 20.

'After-care' program

DDB said there are so far 15 government-owned and 27 private drug rehabilitation centers accredited with DOH.

President Rodrigo Duterte wants to build four main treatment centers through a public-private partnership. Each will have a 500-person capacity, with an estimated cost of 674 million pesos per facility.

Secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio Evasco Jr. said they will also ask the help of business tycoons in fulfilling this project.

"So when we meet with the taipans, we can present this and ask them to do their share in this campaign through their corporate social responsibility," Evasco said.

To prevent any relapse, there's an "after-care" program where patients can slowly be integrated back into society. Drug users can avail of DSWD's cash-for-work program, or TESDA's livelihood training program for former drug dependents.

DILG Undersecretary John Castriciones is optimistic that, once the rehabilitation program rolls out, the killings during drug-related arrests will stop.

"We will now eliminate the so-called apprehensions of drug surrenderees that their surrendering is useless or it will come to naught because, in the process, they will be killed. This time, we can really address the issue and the government is on top of the situation," Castriciones said.

The inter-agency plan will be submitted to the president on August 15.

PhilHealth coverage

Former Health Sec. Esperanza Cabral said health insurance should not cover rehabilitation for drug dependents.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Cabral claimed no national health insurance or anywhere in the world covers self-inflicted illnesses or even deaths.

She added that by doing this, PhilHealth could possibly go bankrupt because of the massive number of drug dependents in the country.

"It's not that i'm not in favor, it's just that this will bankrupt the national health insurance program and there won't be anything left to take care of people who are really sick," Cabral said.

Earlier, Health Sec. Paulyn Ubial said a two-week drug rehabilitation program may be included in PhilHealth's coverage.

Sen. Tito Sotto also filed a bill that requires PhilHealth to include drug addiction treatment in its services.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Camile Abadicio contributed to this story.