Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday, November 15, expressed her support for Vice President Leni Robredo’s plan to use a public health approach in her fight against illegal drugs, saying that the government is in need of a health-based and rights-based drug law enforcement approach to stop the country’s drug problem.

“This is not a contest on who can kill the most. This is about the best strategy that will jail many drug lords and will save and reform many lives,” said Hontiveros in Filipino.

Robredo, who accepted Duterte’s offer to be the administration’s drug czar earlier this month, has been pitching for a public health approach to help curb the illegal drug problem, noting that countries that tried to solve it using violence did not succeed.

“Addiction is a health issue. On the other hand, big-time drug pushing is a serious crime,” Hontiveros pointed out.

“On the demand side, we need to push for the implementation of a barangay health and rehabilitation program. On the supply side, a modern, rights-based drug law enforcement which will focus on big drug lords and syndicates is needed. I look forward to the vice president acting on these things,” she added.

Hontiveros suggested to Robredo ways to respond to the country’s drug problem such as rolling out voluntary, out-patient and community-based programs in poor communities; implementing a “law enforcement-assisted diversion” scheme in which the police will turn over those who are drug dependent without any serious crimes to case managers for treatment and rehabilitation instead of simply arresting them; and implementing a comprehensive drug education and prevention campaign to deter non-user from illegal drugs.

She also suggested the law enforcers to implement internal cleansing of law enforcement agencies to ensure their ranks are not infiltrated by elements corrupted by drug syndicates, replenish ranks of law enforcers with new and young agents who are impervious to police corruption, and mobilize government resources to fund nationwide automated crime reporting system, security-camera command centers in police districts and stations, air assets and modern laboratory equipment which can be used for more thorough and extensive substance analysis.

“We need to replace the government’s “kill, kill, kill” policy with a 4Ks approach namely: kalusugan, kapulisan, katarungan at komunidad, (health, police, justice, community),” Hontiveros stressed. 

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