Press Release
August 19, 2015


Mr. President,

As Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, I rise today to sponsor Senate Bill Number 2843 under Committee Report 183. The bill provides an affordable drug rehabilitation treatment for Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC or PhilHealth) beneficiaries. This is consistent with the constitutional axiom that the State must adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development.

Per the latest statistics of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), an estimated 1.7 million Filipinos are hooked on drugs and is on a continuous spike, with the Filipino youth mainly victimized by the menace of drugs.

Illegal drug use is a significant problem in the country today. The drugs that are most abused in the Philippines are marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine (locally known as shabu), opium, ecstasy and such inhalants as nitrates and even gasoline and solvents, as these can be the cheap way for people to get "high". The problem of drug addiction is aggravated by the increasing new sets of designer drugs - more dangerous and more vile, in effects and in costs: they are called by many names like Superman, Fly-high, Party and the other variations of ecstasy like 3 or 4 methyl shabu compound and the date rape drug or club drug called gamma hydroxyl butyric acid (GHB) which is a liquid ecstasy mixed with alcoholic beverages given to unsuspecting high school and college students.

The cost of drug addiction is high and it is equated in the high incidence of crimes. It also involves:

  • A great deal of domestic violence which is associated with drugs;

  • The economy suffers because drugs users become unproductive and less productive and unable to work with focus completely;

  • The development of a criminal syndicate and a crime underworld marketing illegal substances;

  • Drug addiction destroys communities and it can lead to a situation where citizens are afraid to leave their homes because of fear;

  • The government needs to spend large appropriation to solve drug problems.

There are a number of other repercussions and these are the rationale for considering the legislation at hand. Senate Bill 2843, as a substitute bill, has the following features:

1. It incorporates the definition of drug dependent in the PhilHealth Law. Accordingly, "Drug Dependent" is, "as defined under RA 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002), a person exhibiting a cluster of physiological, behavioral and cognitive phenomena of variable intensity, in which the use of psychoactive drug takes on a high priority, thereby involving, among others, a strong desire or a sense of compulsion to take the substance and the difficulties in controlling substance-taking behavior in terms of its onset, termination or levels of use.

2. Affordable rehabilitation treatment of drug dependents is integrated as one of the benefit packages that may be elected or an option by a PhilHealth member.

At present, drug dependency treatment is among those excluded from the benefit package of PhilHealth. I expect that when passed as a law, PhilHealth will embark on a health technology assessment (HTA) which will provide affordable drug rehabilitation to arrest the increasing incidence of drug abuse and dependency.

Mr. President, one of the main advocates against drugs, Sen. Tito Sotto and I, believe that it's not just the enforcement of the law against drug users and drug pushers but the rehabilitation of the users that will actually help the young of today who are dependent on drugs. We need to have these drug rehabilitation centers provided for by our PhilHealth programs and benefits.

This is a measure too for the reformation of possible human potentials. May karapatan ang mga tao na magbagong buhay at bigyang kalinga ng ating pamahalaan. Bigyan sila ng pangalawa o pangatlong pagkakataon. Maraming pamilya ang dumanas ng hirap dahil sa droga pero lagi tayong umaasa sa kanilang rehabilitasyon at paggaling. Dapat natin silang bigyan ng tsansa sa buhay.

Maraming salamat, Mr. President.

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