Press Release
November 15, 2019

Hontiveros backs Robredo's public-health strat vs. illegal drugs, recommends "4Ks" approach

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros today expressed support for Vice President Leni Robredo's plan to use a public health approach in the government's anti-drug campaign, saying that such a policy will be more effective in ending not only the proliferation of illegal drugs, but drug-related violence as well.

This comes after Robredo, who recently accepted the task as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), said that government must approach the drug problem primarily as a medical and sociological problem and not a criminal justice issue alone. Robredo also said that she will put a stop to the killing of innocents, especially those made in anti-drug operations.

"Hindi ito contest kung sino ang may pinakamaraming pinatay. Ito ay tungkol kung ano ang pinakamagandang istratehiya na magkukulong ng pinakamaraming druglords at sasagip at rereporma sa pinakamaraming buhay," Hontiveros said.

"Addiction is a health issue. On the other hand, big-time drug pushing is a serious crime. On the demand side, we need to push for the implementation of a barangay health and rehabilitation program. On the supply side, a modern, rights-based drug law enforcement which will focus on big drug lords and syndicates is needed. I look forward to the Vice President acting on these things," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros outlined several key areas that Robredo could pursue under a public health approach to respond to the drug problem.

1) Roll-out voluntary, out-patient, and community-based programs in poor communities in which drug dependents can seek necessary health and social services without threat of harm or death.

2) Study the creation of "recovery courts" to help drug dependents become and remain drug free through treatment and recovery, and reduce the chances that people will be sent back to the criminal justice system.

3) Implementation of "law enforcement-assisted diversion" scheme in which the police will turn over drug dependents, especially young ones, who have not committed serious crimes to case managers for treatment and rehabilitation, instead of simply arresting them to face criminal charges.

4) Implementation of a comprehensive drug education and prevention campaign to deter non-users from illegal drugs.

On the law enforcement side, Hontiveros suggested the following:

1) Internal cleansing of law enforcement agencies to ensure that they are not infiltrated by elements corrupted by drug syndicates.

2) Replenish ranks of law enforcers with new and young agents who are impervious to police corruption.

3) Mobilization of government resources to fund modern crime-fighting and solving infrastructure and capability enhancement programs, such as through a nationwide automated crime reporting system, security-camera command centers in police districts and stations, air assets and modern laboratory equipment which can be used for more thorough and extensive substance analysis.

4) Strengthened community policing as a response to reactive, incident-driven law enforcement work.

"4Ks: Kalusugan, kapulisan, katarungan at komunidad"

"We need to replace the government's 'kill, kill, kill' policy with a 4Ks approach namely: kalusugan, kapulisan, katarungan at komunidad. Ito ang mga sentrong programa ng isang public health approach na lulutas sa problema ng ilegal na droga," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros is the author of Senate Bill No. 359 otherwise known as "Public Health Intervention for Drug Use Act" which seeks to promote a "health and alternative law enforcement strategy" to address the country's drug problem.

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