On to the next level of anti-drugs campaign

AMID the continuing anti-drug operations in the country, with police raids in Metro Manila, Laguna, Rizal, and Pangasinan, two drug rehabilitation facilities were recently completed, built with grants from the Chinese government, in Agusan del Sur in the Caraga region and in Sarangani in the Soccsksargen region of Mindanao.

Funds for the two rehabilitation centers – a total of R760 million – had been received by the Department of Health in November last year. They now form part of the department’s “Windows of Hope” project, aimed at giving new life to victims of drug addiction and providing for their restoration to their homes and communities, Secretary of Health Francisco Duque said. The two facilities each have 150 beds and a recovery service center.

For them, President Duterte was profuse in his thanks to China President Xi Jinping and Ambassador Zhao Jianhua. With these two facilities, only two of the country’s 17 regions – Region 4B and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao – are left without their own regional rehabilitation centers.

China has been supporting the overall Philippine anti-drugs campaign on so many levels. It was intelligence information from Chinese law enforcement authorities that led to the seizure of shabu worth P6.4 billion in a raid on two warehouses in Valenzuela City last May, 2017. The huge shipment had somehow eluded seizure by the Bureau of Customs in Manila so that it managed to reach the Valenzuela warehouses.

It has been noted that while shabu – metamphetamine hydrochloride – had been made in hidden laboratories in this country, big shipments of the illegal drug have also been smuggled into the country from some countries, including China. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is now engaged in information and data sharing with China’s Ministry of Public Security, along with the provision of technical equipment, exchange and training programs, and repatriation of drug criminals.

China’s assistance to the Philippines’ anti-drugs campaign has been considerable – from information sharing on the operations of drug smugglers to the establishment of rehabilitation facilities, such as the two most recent ones in Agusan del Sur and Sarangani.

We need to push this relationship to the next level of cooperation – to stop the drug supply lines at or near the point of origin. We must take this next big step in the campaign to eradicate a menace that has caused so much death and disorder here and in the rest of the world.