Philippines govt set to review ‘antiquated’ anti-drug policy

MANILA, May 28 (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN): The government will soon review the country’s two-decade-old anti-drug policy in an effort to treat the use of dangerous drugs as a health issue, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said.

Remulla made the announcement during a dialogue with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in The Hague, Netherlands.

He said an executive review of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, would soon be done by relevant government agencies.

“The DOJ supports the conduct of an executive review, in light of the Philippine administration’s new direction to approach the drug problem through the prism of public health for persons who use drugs,” Remulla said on Friday.

He added that the review would also consider “small-time peddlers who got involved in low-level drug transactions due to health, social and economic factors.”

‘Health-based approach’

He, however, has not specified what exact provisions of RA 9165 would be reviewed and possibly recommended for amendment to achieve its “health-based approach” to the drugs, nor did he mention when the review would take place.

But relevant government agencies will be involved in the upcoming review, like the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

“Nonetheless, the government remains committed to go after organized and big drug groups through effective, focused, and dedicated law enforcement,” Remulla clarified.

Official death figures from former President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” reached more than 6,200, according to the Philippine National Police.

But the CHR claimed the number could go up to 27,000 if the “deaths under investigation” or those killed by unidentified assailants were included.

Such a new approach has been at the core of calls by several drug reform advocates to incorporate “harm reduction” strategies to government approaches.

The coalition group Drug Policy Reform Initiative has suggested starting with science-based community rehabilitation programs that would not isolate drug users from their families and friends.They also suggested exploring the harm reduction method of Australia, which uses an alternative drug for meth or opioid and slowly lessens the dosage given to the person over time to help them ease out of their dependency.

Aside from this, the DOJ also expressed “openness and resolve” to address “reported” police abuses during the anti-drug campaign of the previous administration through the Minnesota Protocol, which promotes proper investigation and prosecution of unlawful deaths.

Remulla said a training program would be conducted by July this year with all relevant law enforcement agencies.

“The program aims to provide support to the country’s capacity building in forensic investigations in line with international standards. The DOJ seeks to enhance the capacity of doctors in forensic pathology and provide them competitive compensation to shield them from the lure of foreign employment,” Remulla explained. - Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

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Philippines , Govt , Review , Two Decade Old , Drug Policy


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