Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino stands by the agency’s goal to clear the entire nation of illegal drugs by 2022, as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte, despite reservation by some quarters.
This as Aquino, along with Cabanatuan City Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara and other officials, led the inauguration of the fully equipped Balay Silangan, a localized reformation center, at the city hall compound on Thursday, May 24.
Aquino acknowledged that merely over 200 of the 3,300 confessed drug addicts who surrendered to authorities since the first wave of the government’s anti-illegal drugs template “Oplan Tokhang” have graduated from the localized reformation center, but he assured the public of a plan to rid the country of drugs.
He said the graduates from Cabanatuan city were a portion of the 25,000 drug users who have finished a comprehensive rehabilitation program in Central Luzon where centers then called Bahay Pagbabago were established during his charge as regional director of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Aquino admitted it would be very hard to clear the country of illegal drugs by 2022, “but we have plans for it”.
He urged newly elected barangay officials to keep working with the PDEA and the police in the fight against illegal drugs.
On the other hand, Mayor Vergara pledged to put up a bigger space for Balay Silangan that will fast track the reformation program. The present one houses 30 drug users who will undertake reformation program for a minimum of three months.
The patients shall have to undergo spiritual, psycho-social, physical and livelihood training, according to Aquino.
Vergara said the city government would allocate fund for the new house from its PHP263-million surplus.
Meanwhile, Aquino said only four provinces were declared drug cleared as of now. They were the provinces of Batanes, Southern Leyte, Biliran, and Romblon.
Cabanatuan city is declared a pilot city for drug clearing. PNA