The Department of Health will spend a total of P570 million “to construct, upgrade, expand and repair” 16 public drug treatment and rehabilitation centers across the country in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said over the weekend.
Pimentel, a member of the House appropriations committee, said the fresh funding “will be spent entirely to build up the infrastructures of government-run residential TRCs, with the aim of enabling them to accommodate a larger number of users.”
The neophyte lawmaker welcomed the added funding to create rehab centers in the country as this, he said, will boost the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“The new money has been included in the House-approved 2017 General Appropriations Act. It will be sourced from the budget for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program,” Pimentel said.
The amount also includes a supplemental P150 million at the disposal of the DoH central office for the infrastructure requirements of TRCs, the lawmaker added.
“We have to improve public access to TRCs. We are worried about users from marginal families. We are not that concerned about users from well-to-do families who can afford to pay for private centers,” Pimentel said.
The lawmaker said the P570 million has been allocated for public TRCs in Bicutan, Taguig City (P51.31 million); San Fernando, La Union (P15 million); Bauko, Mountain Province (P65 million); Ilagan, Isabela (P20.26 million); Pilar, Bataan (P20.02 million); Pampanga (P60 million); San Fernando, Camarines Sur (P24.20 million); Pototan, Iloilo (P8.25 million); Argao, Cebu (P54.08 million); Cebu City (P11.7 million); Dulag, Leyte (P4.19 million); Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte (P20 million); Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay (P20 million); Cagayan de Oro City (P11 million); and Davao City (P34.99 million, for two centers).
He stressed the need for government to send as many users as possible to TRCs, in order to effectively address the “demand side” of the drug problem.
“There will always be suppliers —traffickers and pushers—as long as we have users generating the demand for drugs,” he pointed out.
Pimentel said the “supply side” is already being addressed by Camp Crame, which has been running after suspected traffickers and pushers, including their coddlers embedded in the criminal justice system.
Considering that six out of 10 users are also pushing to finance their costly addiction, Pimentel said sending more drug users to TRCs would simultaneously shrink both the demand and supply sides of the drug problem.
Pimentel said the P570 million is on top of funding for the Dangerous Drugs Board.
Under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Law of 2002, the DDB receives every year a combined P72 million in mandatory contributions from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, for the establishment and operation of TRCs.
Pimentel said these budgets are apart from grants, donations and endowments from various sources, domestic and foreign, received by government for TRCs.