IBP seeks curative measures vs drug menace

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has batted for a shift in the anti-drug war strategy focusing on curative and not on punitive measures.

IBP president Burt Estrada, regular member of the Dangerous Drugs Board, urged DDB chairperson Secretary Catalino Cuy to include in the agenda a proposal to increase the number of persons authorized by the board to file petitions for voluntary confinement.

Estrada said this falls under Section 61 of Republic Act (RA) 9165.

The IBP head said the measure aims to address the lack of law enforcement personnel to police the estimated 1.67 million active Filipino drug users.

“More importantly, it will compel many more of those with substance use disorder to seek treatment before they are caught or charged with violations of the punitive provisions of RA No. 9165,” said Estrada in his letter to Cuy.

“Much of the focus in the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy is on the punitive aspect of Republic Act 9165 or Sections 4 to 35 thereof. As a result, there have been a total of 307,521 suspects arrested in 213,504 operations from 1 July 2016 to 31 August 2021,” he said.

“There has also been a marked increase when it comes to those undergoing facility and community-based rehabilitation programs. A fair number of these persons undergoing rehabilitation have submitted willingly or voluntarily. Others were ordered by the courts to undergo rehabilitation, after plea bargaining to a drug-related offense,” Estrada noted.

The IBP said the Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy, when it comes to drug demand reduction, has worked by targeting those who voluntarily submit or those who have already been arrested for a drug-related offense.

The lawyer’s group said the reason the drug menace is alive and real is due to the fact that vast majority of those afflicted with substance use disorder have not been caught and/or are unwilling to undergo rehabilitation.

The IBP noted the lack of law enforcement personnel to go after every person using illegal drugs.

“After all, around 1.67 million or two out of 100 Filipinos aged 10 to 69 are current users of drugs, according to the results of the 2019 National Household Survey on the Patterns and Trends of Drug Abuse, released by DDB. These persons are in denial about having substance use disorders and are therefore unwilling to submit to treatment,” said the IBP.

Also, law enforcement personnel are faced with the challenge of how to arrest someone with substance use disorder when they do not have personal knowledge that a crime has been committed and that the person being reported is responsible thereof.

With this in mind, the IBP proposed that the DDB orders the appointment of a person in every barangay anti-drug abuse council as a person authorized to file petitions for involuntary confinement in order to fully utilize the curative measures set forth in Section 61 of Republic Act 9165.

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