Even with the nine percent budget increase of the Department of Health (DOH) for 2018, allocated funds for state-run drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers was cut by P2 billion.
From this year’s P3.08 billion budget, the drug rehab centers will only be given P759.6 million in 2018.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto was wary of the decision as no proper explanation was given in the hearing.
“If drug addiction is a disease, is this budgetary prescription from our health officials the right one?” he said.
Recto added the only explanation given to him was that the rehab centers will be built and funded by private donors.
Drug rehab centers being constructed in Taguig City, Isabela, Mountain Province, Palawan , and Zamboanga are all funded by private money, according to numerous reports.
Additionally, the P759.6 million budget for next year will be used for 14 drug rehab centers nationwide, one of which will be launched next year.
It was also said that a Chinese tycoon built one rehab center in Nueva Ecija.
Recto says private funds still are not enough for the other operational aspects of the centers.
“Fine. But what about the manning of those centers? The training of personnel? Are the funds sought enough?” he said.
He further added that this budget cut might affect the government’s policy of helping drug abusers “turn over a new leaf.”
“The existing policy is still ‘save the users’ and not ‘salvage the users.’ For as long as that policy remains, then government is duty-bound to help those who have volunteered for treatment by providing a new path to a better life for them,” Recto added.
He said the government’s anti-drug drive hinges not on the mass killing of drug-dependents but on their mass rehabilitation.
DOH sought a P164.8 billion budget for 2018. This year’s budget was closed at P151.3 billion
Photo: Drug rehabilitators from the Bicutan Rehabilitation Center (retrieved from Public Radio International)