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Palace frowns on proposal to decriminalize drug use in PH

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By Prince Golez

Decriminalizing drug use will only worsen the Philippines’ drug problem, Malacanang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark recommended the decriminalization of people who use drugs as an alternative to the drug war.

This was similar to the proposal by the European Union in 2017 which President Rodrigo Duterte had already opposed, said Panelo in a statement on Thursday.

“The other countries’ experiences in addressing illegal substance while educational relative to their method of solving their own drug menace, decriminalizing the use of drugs in the Philippines will not only aggravate but multiply the problem,” according to him.

Panelo admitted that the illegal drug trade in the country is a “billion-peso industry,” noting that “97 percent” of barangays are already infiltrated by drug activities.

“Take out the criminal liability of those involved and you induce and encourage others to be a part of the dreaded evil,” he added.

The chief presidential legal counsel, meanwhile, said Duterte’s anti-drug campaign is anchored on national security and public health and is supported by majority of Filipinos.

“Drug treatment and rehabilitation form part of the second phase of our campaign. It is during the Duterte Administration that a 10,000-bed drug rehabilitation center – the country’s biggest – opened in Nueva Ecija. Twenty-seven reformation centers have likewise been established, as of February 2019,” said Panelo.

“We suggest observers, especially those in foreign countries, to understand fully the Philippine government’s strategy in dealing with illegal drugs before being persuaded by one-sided information and crafting unwise if not cerebrally challenged commentaries based thereon,” he concluded.

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