“To me, more than anything, the rehabilitation of victims of illegal drugs, the drug users and drug addicts, could be the answer to the war on illegal drugs”
I have been repeating myself, Santa Banana, in earlier columns that a Department of Disaster Resilience is urgently and critically needed in a country like the Philippines which is prone to all kinds of natural disasters.
I was not referring to the magnitude 7 earthquake that struck Abra and affected Northern Luzon, especially Vigan in Ilocos Sur, and which partly destroyed heritage houses and centuries-old churches and landmarks.
The lives lost, my gulay, in that magnitude 7 earthquake were victims of landslides. The destruction of infrastructure and agriculture costs billions of pesos.
What is more tragic is that the Senate, where the DDR bill has long been pending, is still debating whether a department should be created for disasters and calamities. On the suggestion of President Marcos, what is preferable is an agency under the Office of the President.
I have been a journalist for 74 years, having witnessed history in the making, seen disasters and calamities strike that cost thousands of lives, billions of pesos lost due to devastation to infrastructure and agriculture and livelihood of people.
And I still cannot believe that our duly elected leaders are still quibbling on the need for a DDR. On the suggestion of President Marcos what is needed is just an agency under the Office of the President that should serve as an answer to disasters and calamities.
I cannot believe that the Senate continues to hedge on a DDR , or just an agency, to handle the three “Rs” ( rescue, relief and rehabilitation) of areas affected by earthquakes, typhoons and cyclones, storm surges, floods and landslides and to help isolated communities crying out for food, water and clothing.
My gulay, whether or not a department or just an agency, the Senate and the President should act immediately to replace the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council) to take care of rescue, relief and rehabilitation and install permanent evacuation centers with all the amenities needed in the aftermath of such calamities or disasters.
Especially now with the onset of typhoons and cyclones , communities in Mindanao, the Visayas and parts of Luzon are confronted by floods and landslides making life so miserable for so many.
Mister President, just do it — a department or a DDR, or just an agency under your Office. We need it like we needed it yesterday.
My attention was caught by the statement of the new Police Chief Lieutenant General Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. who said that the war on illegal drugs is not about killing and more killing.
I said to myself, we now have a new police chief unlike past police chiefs who cared more about killing in the war against illegal drugs – not realizing that there’s a holistic approach to succeed in that war: prevention, law enforcement, prosecution and rehabilitation.
To me, more than anything, the rehabilitation of victims of illegal drugs, the drug users and drug addicts, could be the answer to the war on illegal drugs.
The building of community-based rehabilitation centers could be the answer.
It would do well for our new leaders to realize that, on the problems of illegal drugs, there is the matter of the law of supply and demand.
For so long as there is a demand for illegal drugs, syndicates and cartels are always there to supply the demand.
New police chief Azurin is right. Killings are not the answer to the problem of illegal drugs.
This has been the problem of the past administration where former President Duterte allegedly ordered the killings and more killings of not only drug dealers and pushers but the extermination as well of drug users and addicts resulting in the culture of impunity.
While the police estimates say that only over 6,000 have been killed in Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, unofficial estimates have figures as high as 28,000.
Whatever is the number of those killed in Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, the truth of the matter is that illegal drugs continue to enter the country because there is a demand.
You read in the newspapers and watch on television the continuous so-called “buy-bust” operations of the police and the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency).
This simply means that the Duterte war on illegal drugs has failed, and now it is the problem of President Marcos.
It is interesting to note, however, that we now have a new police chief who will change the mentality of the police in killings and more killings that won’t solve the problem of illegal drugs continually entering the country.
The vicious cycle of supply and demand must be broken. The final solution is rehabilitation.
This is where the private sector — the taipans and tycoons — should come in to help the government in building community-based drug rehab centers. Why community-based? Rehabilitation of drug victims needs the support of their families.
The case of “pricey” and “outdated” laptops procured by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management ( PS-DBM) of the Department of Education could be an opportunity for President Marcos to show the people that he has a zero-tolerance for graft and corruption in his administration.
The fact that no less than the Commission on Audit had told the leadership of PS-DBM about the anomaly, costing no less than P2.4 billion, an amount which is not peanuts, should make Bongbong Marcos act immediately to show that his administration cannot tolerate any form of anomaly in his administration.
BBM may not have mentioned in his State- of the-Nation Address that he has a zero tolerance for any form of graft and corruption, but I believe, there is no better time than now to show the people that he would not tolerate any form of monkey business.
The COA’s 2021 annual audit report had reported that the PS-DBM procured laptops with “outdated” Intel Celeron processors and were “too slow” for online learning.
The COA reports mentioned the suppliers that obviously were favored, especially so since the laptops were already antiquated. That procurement amounted to nothing.
I would also like to believe that Vice President Sara Duterte, who is also secretary of the DepEd, should act immediately and strongly denounce the procurement of outdated laptops by the PS-DBM.
It’s an insult to her and also to millions of teachers and students who can no longer use those antiquated laptops.
Definitely, some people in the PS-DBM made a pile out of that procurement.
To me, it is a double insult, not only to the DepEd, but also to BBM this early in his administration.
It’s obvious that some characters at the PS-DBM thought that, with the new administration, they could get away with murder.
President Marcos should not only have the anomaly investigated but hold accountable those who were responsible for it.
For one thing, P2.4 billion is not peanuts, and for another, this is a challenge to BBM to show the people that as President he would not allow this anomaly to pass over.
On the part of Vice President Sara, who is DepEd secretary, she should act right now to show that she too, has a zero-tolerance for corruption.
The big question that nobody can answer right away is when will the COVID-19 pandemic with all its variants and sub-variants end?
The fact that even the OCTA researchers believe that the continuous rise of COVID-19 cases may even continue to the “ber” months makes this unseen enemy of the people to continue for quite some time. Only God can tell.