THE PHILIPPINES IS NOT not the only country suffering from the tremendous cost to individuals and the nation due to the drug problem.
The USA, Portugal, Columbia, Switzerland and New Zealand , among others, are also some of such nations. But there is a world-wide trend now to view the enormous drug problem from both the standpoints of the “criminal justice issue” and the “public health issue”.
There is a more balanced view that instead of just the arrest, imprisonment or killings of drugs users, there is now more bias towards more funds given “for anti drug usage information” and the “rehabilitation of drug users.”
Columbia’s president Juan Santos, for instance, who claims his country has lost “its best men” in the violent anti-drug trade war has widened his view to include human rights context, national budget financing for rehabilitation centers and finding alternatives to serving prison terms of drug dependents.
It is a wise alternative. For without sounding facetious, the Philippines may not even have enough bullets to kill all of the suspected 3.7 million drug users here.
Reportedly, the affluent USA has 40 million drug users prompting her government to allocate US$10-Billion a year for rehabilitation. America looks at it also as a grim social issue- reducing drug users to become unfocused and incompetent members of society. The cost of crimes and accidents related to drug use and the consequent hospitalization is also enormous.
This more “balanced” American view of the problem has reportedly caused the drop in drug-related crimes from 70% (2004) to only 16% (2013). Rehabilitation is aimed at breaking the cycle of arrest-imprisonment- release and re-arrest.
Portugal (10 million people) in 2001 stopped the arrests and imprisonment of drug users in the possession of a small amount of drugs (only for their personal use) – as they were definitely not pushers. Instead she spends about US$120-M (about P6-B) for her drug rehabilitation program. Looking to most of them as “people with medical condition” rather than “vicious criminals”.
Switzerland (8 million people) has a “harm reduction program ” for drug users. Instead of imprisonment, they are taken into hospitals for a rehab that includes a gradual reduction of dosage (medically controlled) and with the use of clean needles. Let us recall that many of the offshoot diseases of drug use through the use of contaminated needles are HIV, AIDS and Heptatis B and C.
Uncontrolled drug usage has devastated millions of families and individuals globally.
Some countries rechanneled the funds for punitive pursuit of the drug trade by decriminalizing its usage and opened scores of rehabilitation centers instead. There the addicts are medically treated away from society and would do community service until the day of their final social integration into the mainstream.
There is, however, still a strong-line sentiment against “drug pushers” rather than the “drug users”.
In 14 countries (including the USA and Cuba) , death is slapped versus the drug traffickers. Such are also summarily executed (by their laws) in: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.
The Philippine’s new government is kin on re-legislating the death penalty for heinous crimes especially drug pushers . In the current drug campaign ,close to 3,000 people have been unofficially counted dead to include both those under legitimate police operations and the so-called “extra judicial killings.”
It has announced that the campaign is on Phase II: (1) drive against drug lords (2) filing of charges versus pushers and (3) rehabilitation of users.
China, Ramon Ang (of San Miguel Corporation) and other corporations are expected to come up with their billions to help shore financing for the gargantuan task of building scores of rehabilitation centers nationwide.
Whenever citizen volunteers are called to help in the rehabilitation , we should not hesitate to give our share even in terms of time and talent.
Because unless properly rehabilitated, the thousands of users will just go back to their old haunts and make their en masse surrender meaningless. Woefully, we will be back to square one.