There are 3.7 million Filipinos addicted to shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride), estimates President Rodrigo Duterte. That include pushers and drug lords as well as scalawags and protectors from the police ranks.
So far, there are already half-a-million persons who have voluntarily surrendered since PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa launched Oplan Double Barrel, which is reaping initial success in a matter of 30 days. The president’s target of solving this drug menace is six months.
Assuming that each month the PNP would be able to neutralize 500,000 drug dependents or dealers and convince them to forget using and selling, the authorities will still have 700,000 on the loose. Given that outcome, that would still be a big stride and we can give the president a high five if that happens. IF THAT HAPPENS.
Assuming again that it can happen. What is the guarantee that those who will avail of the rehabilitation program would no longer go back to their old ways?
Most drug users are from the poorest sectors of our society, either unemployed, unskilled and with lack of educational attainment, dropped out of school, lack of financial capability, lack of moral support and with the tendency to become lazy (excuse the word).
The government needs millions, perhaps billions of pesos for rehabilitating drug addicts. It is worth the price but only if there is a guarantee for success. A guarantee that upon rehabilitation they will be given enough attention and recovery. That they will be provided with livelihood programs upon recovery. Is there a guarantee that there will not be a repeat of what is happening in the Bilibid Prison where the so-called big fish who are behind bars continue to operate?
Duterte is confident. Give him a chance, of course, on solving the drug issue but remind him also to step-up the pace in solving other social problems — unemployment, underdevelopment in the agricultural sector, quality education (more classrooms, more qualified teachers), lands for the tillers or farm-ownership for the farmers, decent housing for all government workers, higher pay in the labor front and the list is long. The government must also put more attention to these problems and not just exhausting its resources to one particular issue.
We joined the president in combating the drug menace but we also urge him to give more time to more pressing issues like food security (lower prices), lower taxes both for business and consumer, higher wages and many more. There are also 97 million good citizens who need better attention from the government.