Philippines, Japan ink deal on rehabilitation of drug users

JAPAN has signed a program document with the Philippine government on the treatment and rehabilitation of illegal drug users in the country, an official said Wednesday.

The program document for Comprehensive Assistance for Rehabilitation (Care) was inked during the official visit in the country of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week.

The signatories were officials of member-agencies of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Establishment and Support of Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers (DATRCs) led by its chairperson, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary John Castriciones and the Government of Japan, through Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) represented Mr. Takahiro Morita.

"The goal of the Care program is to establish treatment and rehabilitation facilities and strengthen policies of treatment protocol and interventions for drug dependents nationwide," said Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Isidro Lapeña, adding that the Jica has committed to support the program by extending a grant aid as a token of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

"In addition to Jica, donations in significant portions to the DATRC Task Force continue to pour in from local and international benefactors to help build more drug treatment facilities nationwide. It is heartwarming to know that they have full faith and trust in the government’s intensified fight against illegal drugs," Lapeña said.

The DATRCs Task Force, whose powers and functions include the determination of suitable locations of the DATRCs and their establishment and provision of operational support mechanism, is composed of the DILG, Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Office of the President (OP) and the PDEA.

The PDEA chief said that the number of drug dependents who have voluntarily surrendered to the authorities is still growing by the day.

“That is why the long-term goal here is to have at least one DATRC in every province, as mandated by law. With the overwhelming financial support the task force is receiving, more DATRCs will be built that would cover the treatment and rehabilitation of more drug dependents throughout the country,” he said.

Currently, there are only 16 DOH-accredited government drug rehabilitation centers operating in the country, and the increasing number of in-house patients is straining the capacity of such facilities and their personnel beyond their limits. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)

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