Press Release
May 27, 2015

1:00 p.m., Recto Room

Good afternoon everybody.

This public hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs joint with the Committees on Health and Demography and Finance is called to order.

In today's public hearing, we shall have three main issues as covered by a Privilege Speech of Senator Vicente Sotto III and six (6) bills in the Agenda:

1. The Privilege Speech of Senator Vicente Sotto delivered in the Senate on May 11, 2015, is about the so-called 'Harm Reduction Strategy'. Universally, the strategy is also called "harm minimization" and is a range of public health policies designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with various human behaviors, both legal and illegal. In the country, the Harm Reduction Strategy is recognized as a mode of intervention for HIV patients.

As a backdrop, Senator Sotto in his speech, mentioned that "in a certain barangay in Cebu City, the government is authorized to provide needles and injectable instruments to drug addicts and dependents." He said that it may create an impression that, "the said local government unit is exempted from the operation of our criminal laws on drugs."

2. Drug Rehabilitation Issues --- in Senate Bills 3, 794, and 1700 authored separately by Senators Sotto, Trillanes and Defensor-Santiago.

Senate Bill 3 is a simple but important piece of law, the legislation proposes that Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) beneficiaries who are drug dependents and who are willing submit to treatment and rehabilitation to an accredited health care provider shall be at an affordable cost. This is pursuant to the constitutional mandate, "that the State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost."

Senate Bills 794 and 1700 seek to establish drug rehabilitation centers in all relevant places or regions in the country. It is by the establishment of an accessible rehabilitation center in every region of the country that we can ensure the speedy recovery from the physical and mental trauma brought about by dangerous drugs to every drug dependent in the country.

3. Resolutions 1292 and 1374 authored by Senator Defensor-Santiago and this representation both centered on new and party drugs, its proliferation and prevalence and its implications to human trafficking.

Intensyon ng mga Komite ng Senado na mabigyang solusyon ang patuloy na pagtaas ng drug addiction sa ating bansa. Sa mga datos ng pamahalaan at pribadong sektor, halos may 1.8 milyon na ang mga drug dependent sa Pilipinas at patuloy na lumalawig ito. Ang mas nakakapanlumo, kakaunti lamang ang sumasailalim sa treatment at rehabilitation. Una, dahil sa mahal ang pagpapagaling. Pangalawa, dahil sa mangilan-ngilan lamang ang malalaki at pam-publikong drug rehabilitation centers.

The problems are aggravated by the introduction of new sets of designer drugs --- more dangerous and more vile, in effects and costs. They are called "Superman', "Fly-high", "Party" and the other variations of ecstasy (3-4 methyl shabu compound). In the words of Senator Miriam Santiago in her resolution, there is also the prevalence in the market of Gamma Hydroxy Butiric acid (GHB) --- a "date rape" drug or "club drug" --- a liquid type of ecstasy drugs often mixed with alcoholic beverages and given to unsuspecting high school and college students-victims prior to sexual assaults.

Let me emphasize: the Committees, this Congress, are committed to protect the young, families and the institutions for the youth who may be intended market for these new drugs and that our government must ensure that agencies involved in anti-drug efforts are equipped with technology, intelligence, expertise to monitor, detect and prevent drug production, sale, use and proliferation.

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