Tuesday, July 28, 2009

RP’s drug problem down by 75%, says Drugs Board Chair

The country’s drug abuse problem has decreased by almost 75% from the 6 million level in 2004 to only 1.7 million level in 2009.

“We have been very successful in our fight against drug abuse in the last five years,” Dangerous Drugs Board chairperson Sec. Vicente Sotto III said today during the nationwide seminar-workshop on Republic Act 9165 being held in Davao City from July 28 to 30.

RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 aims to provide more teeth to the government’s fight against illegal drug traffic and addiction by providing stiffer penalties for illegal drug use and pushing.

Proof of this success, Sotto said, is the latest research conducted by the Philippine Normal University and the Department along with the Department of Interior and Local Government. The result of the 2009 study, which was compared to the 2004 study, showed a positive effect in the government’s program versus drug abuse.

“The research show that the number of drug abusers has decreased form 6 million in 2004 to only 1.7 million in 2009,” Sotto said. The statistics is quite accurate, he added compared to what the other countries have been reporting to the United Nations.

Sotto said China recently submitted a report to the UN stating that they only have 1 million drug users. However, he added, this is an unbelievable figure considering that China has billions of people.

He said he brought the matter to the attention of the UN Committee on Drugs and Crime. It turned out that China only reported the number of dependents that are in their rehabilitation centers, he added.

If that would be the basis, he said, then the Philippines should amend its report because there are only 5,860 drug dependents in the country using that basis. “That’s comparing apples to apples and not apples to oranges,” he said.

DDB undersecretary Clarence Paul V. Oaminal said research shows that 92.68% of Filipinos haven’t tried drugs. “About 80% of the 7.23% Filipinos who have tried drugs admitted to have stopped,” he said.

Sotto said the drug abuse problem is so complex because “this is the only crime where the criminal is a victim and the victim is also a criminal.” However, he added, no country in the world is without such problem.

Despite the success, he said, both the prosecution and the enforcement groups should continue to work together to ensure that the drug abuse problem is minimized or even eradicated.

“But the illegal drug problem can never be won by enforcement but by families,” he said. This is why the government is making sure there are enough awareness and educational programs to help solve the problem.

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