The Dangerous Drugs Board notes the recommendations of Vice President Leni Robredo on the anti-drug campaign. The agency keeps in mind the ultimate goal of establishing drug-free communities as a serious commitment of the Duterte Administration.

Time and again, DDB emphasizes that the figures on the number of drug users in 2015 need updating considering that after the launch of the anti-drug campaign of the current administration, the number of drug surrenderers have reached more than the 2015 figures. Reasonably, there has been a surge in the number of drug users documented nationwide.

The DDB recognizes the importance of having a unified data and scientific basis of the important aspects of the anti-drug campaign in aid of policy, program development, and effective implementation of targets and deliverables.

In order to validate the presentation of data, the DDB with the technical assistance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is currently undertaking a data gathering initiative set to determine the nature and extent of drug use in the country.

Once and for all, this will address questions on what data to use as to the number of drug users in the country. The DDB is set to release the results of this research initiative within the first semester of the year.

Further, in the inception of the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy (PADS), there is a very clear mechanism on the whole-of-government approach to address the drug problem. Executive Order No. 66, series of 2018, signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, establishes a comprehensive and balanced approach to address the country’s drug problem. This means, we put premium to both drug supply reduction (law enforcement, judicial and legislative measures, alternative development) and drug demand reduction (preventive education, treatment and rehabilitation, advocacy) to guarantee that all aspects of the anti-drug campaign are seriously covered.

It is clearly indicated under the said EO that DDB is the lead agency in the implementation of PADS. This is true because PADS is a policy framework which aims to govern the anti-drug efforts and approaches to be undertaken by the government. It reaffirms the DDB’s mandate as the highest policy-making body on drug abuse prevention and control which is stipulated under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (RA 9165).

Moreover, RA 9165 also tasks the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to be the implementing arm of the Board. It is but proper that PDEA chairs the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) which is operational in nature since it creates an inter-agency mechanism that will unify the implementation of anti-drug priorities by the different government agencies.

The public must know that ICAD captures the objectives and the intentions of PADS as it plots and implements its anti-drug priorities. Therefore, DDB does not encounter problems in terms of harmonizing priorities in support of the anti-drug campaign.

The PADS framework, on the other hand, sets in motion the execution, timetable, and the budget necessary to propel the implementation of all these priorities.

The DDB has been active in doing inter and intra-agency liaison to ensure that commitments are pursued and resources are available. For 2020 alone, the DDB hopes that 80% of agency commitments in line with the implementation of PADS will be accomplished. It is important to say that these priorities are not in the cluster of law enforcement alone.

We rally the public in creating an understanding that communities are at the center of all our anti-drug efforts. In the spirit of local autonomy, the DDB empowers Local Government Units (LGUs) to establish and guarantee the functionality of community-based rehabilitation programs with corresponding facilities. We continue to remind our local duty bearers that if they put premium to the anti-drug campaign, they too must ensure their fair share in making the programs successful. This means activating their Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (ADACs) and making interventions for treatment, rehabilitation, reintegration and aftercare readily available to their constituents who became victims of the drug menace.

The LGUs, however, do not face this responsibility alone because the national government remains committed and ready to provide technical and financial support as counterparts in implementing these commitments. Since 2016, more than 300 Million Pesos was provided by DDB as funding augmentation to LGUs with in-place community-based rehabilitation programs and are in need of facilities for their operations. This clearly shows that there is a well-established convergence between the national and local governments in prioritizing the anti-drug campaign.

The DDB’s intention is to further strengthen and institutionalize the PADS because it sets in motion what the government aspires in as far as the direction and framework of action in drug abuse prevention and control is concerned. The President has seen this.

So much has to be done but we have also seen significant accomplishments taking off and are worth sustaining.