Anti-drug law to be reviewed

THE government will be reviewing its 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.

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

Remulla, 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.

Relevant government agencies expected to be involved include the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

“Nonetheless, the government remains committed to go after organised 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.

The coalition group Drug Policy Reform Initiative suggested starting with science-based community rehabilitation programmes that would not isolate drug users from their families and friends.

It 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. — Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

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