More than a year after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s issuance of Executive Order Number 66, Series of 2018 institutionalizing the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy (PADS) which solidifies the foundation of the current Administration’s drug abuse prevention and control agenda, the Dangerous Drugs Board commits to sustain the implementation of the identified demand and supply reduction priorities to address the country’s drug problem.

DDB makes public the accomplishments of the PADS through the different initiatives which were undertaken using a “whole-of-nation approach” on drug abuse prevention and control.

Laying down the foundation

With the President’s issuance of the PADS Executive Order, all agencies of the government including Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) were directed to implement the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy in accordance with their respective mandates.

The Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy or PADS is the blueprint that prescribes how the government and all sectors should work together in cutting the supply of and demand for illegal drugs.

The Dangerous Drugs Board, mandated to ensure the application of this framework, initiated the conduct of activities to operationalize its implementation.

As of November 2019, 54 government agencies have submitted their action plans and have committed to implement drug prevention and control programs within their mandates and for the benefit of their stakeholders. 2019 was a take-off point for all task-agencies to contribute their fair-share in the campaign through their institutional mandates.

For instance, the Department of Labor and Employment has committed to conduct compliance inspection of companies in relation to the Drug-Free Workplace Policy. The Department also included in their action plan the inclusion of drug prevention in the Occupational Safety and Health training and orientation courses. Funds for these activities were also included in their proposed 2020 agency budget.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue is another agency which committed to implement their role under the PADS. Their action plan stated the creation of a Task Force within the agency that will focus on the conduct of audit investigations of alleged drug personalities, among others.

From January of this year, agencies have been working on fulfilling their commitments and implementing their action plans. Among these commitments which is now being fulfilled is that of the Philippine Statistics Authority with an item in their action plan identifying their duty to review the design and methodology of the Nationwide Household Survey to Determine the Nature and Extent of the Country’s Drug Abuse Problem. Moreover, the Department of Social Welfare and Development is currently working hand in hand with DDB on the data gathering process for the said survey.

Another important provision of the Executive Order is on the implementation of the Drug-Free Workplace Program and Authorized Drug Testing. The Dangerous Drugs Board rallied all government agencies to take the lead in the implementation of this mandate. A number of government offices have responded to the call, with 20 agencies with submitted Drug-Free Workplace Policy and 45 agencies with submitted drug-free workplace program.

To ensure that appropriate drug abuse prevention and control programs are implemented in the communities, local chief executives were oriented on the PADS. In partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Local Government Academy (LGA), a module on PADS was integrated in the Orientation Course for newly elected local government officials. A total of 1,423 local chief executives were oriented on their role in addressing the problem on illegal drugs.

Through these initiatives, the DDB was able to set the foundation for the implementation of the whole-of-nation approach against illegal drugs as embodied in the PADS.

Increasing access to appropriate and responsive community-based drug abuse interventions

To ensure that treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration services are available to those who may need it, community-based drug abuse interventions were institutionalized.

Under the PADS, local government units are given the responsibility to ensure that People Who Use Drugs (PWUDs) will be given appropriate interventions. Those having mild substance use disorder will be provided with community-based rehabilitation programs and those with moderate and severe substance use disorders will be referred to outpatient or residential facilities, respectively.

As of 30 September 2019, out of the 1,634 cities and municipalities in the country, 992 LGUs were able to implement community-based rehabilitation programs benefitting 178,353 individuals. Interventions to rehabilitate PWUDs include medication-assisted treatment, detoxification, counselling, home-based care and therapy, health services, wellness promotion programs, and other psychosocial interventions. Reintegration programs, on the other hand, include relapse prevention, life skills development, literacy and educational programs, vocational skills training, livelihood, employment and other support for income generation, spirituality and moral recovery programs, family support, housing and shelter assistance, and involvement in community service work.

To provide services to those with severe substance use disorder, there are now 54 accredited residential facilities in the country. Nineteen (19) of these are government-owned and 35 are managed by private institutions or non-government organizations.

Enhancing capacity of prevention practitioners and heightening awareness on the harmful effects of drugs

In support of the PADS, the Dangerous Drugs Board spearheads the conduct of capacity-building workshops for those at the forefront of drug abuse prevention and control programs.

Local Government Units are provided with orientation and training on strengthening anti-drug abuse councils, implementing drug-clearing program, and establishing community-based treatment and rehabilitation services for PWUDs. As a result, local government units have been leading efforts to clear their communities from the influence of drugs. Records show that as of 30 November 2019, a total of 16,706 affected barangays have been cleared from drugs.

To cover all bases, the DDB also implements a wide range of preventive education programs and capacity-building trainings for every sector of society. As of September 2019, the DDB was able to implement 28 anti-drug abuse advocacy programs and train 5,015 individuals.

Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials are also distributed to the public to increase their knowledge on the harmful effects of drugs. A total of 21,010 materials has been distributed from January to September 2019.

Expanding alternative development programs

As part of a comprehensive and balanced approach that places equal emphasis on both drug supply reduction and drug demand reduction efforts, alternative development programs are initiated to provide adequate and sustainable means of support for recovering drug dependents.

Through the launch of the “Tahanang Pangkabuhayan” program, the scope of alternative development has been expanded to benefit not only former marijuana cultivators but also recovering drug dependents in urban areas.

In November, the DDB has transferred 4 Million to the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for livelihood assistance and provision of skills training to recovering drug users enrolled in community-based treatment and rehabilitation programs.

Based on the report from TESDA, as of September 2019, 11,291 surrenderers have enrolled in TESDA programs and more than 9,000 have already graduated.

Resolving issues on prosecution of drug cases

The DDB also convenes judges, prosecutors and law enforcers in three-day seminar workshops to coordinate and integrate the overall efforts of the criminal justice system, especially in the prosecution and investigation of drug cases.

In partnership with the Supreme Court and the Philippine Judicial Academy, representatives from the executive, legislative and the judiciary were also convened in October for a National Summit on the Dangerous Drugs Law.

Several recommendations were brought forward and are now being acted upon. One of these is the review and amendment of Board Regulation No. 2, Series of 2002, or the Conduct of Controlled Delivery Operations. In November, relevant agencies were convened to finalize the amendments which aim to better respond to the operational needs of the law enforcement.

As a product of the summit, existing policies, regulations and procedures in handling drug users or dependents who voluntarily surrender to authorities are also now being consolidated.

Implementing a whole-of-nation approach

With the implementation of a whole-of-nation approach in addressing the country’s drug abuse problem, the road to a drug-free country is continuously paved.

Through the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy, the DDB believes that the vision of having drug-free communities will soon be realized.