THE PHILIPPINES, which has been under fire from local and international critics for the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, hosted a training on drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation for the member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Metro Manila last week, from June 25 to 29.
The training, a joint effort of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and the ASEAN Training Center for Preventive Drug Education (ATCPDE), focused on the Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC), the DDB said in a statement.
“The training is projected to design a country plan for the adoption of UPC principles that would intensify efforts to speed up the attainment of ASEAN drug-free nations,” the agency said.
The curriculum also “serves as a venue for the ASEAN Member States’ prevention coordinators and workers to enhance their capabilities on evidence-based interventions in substance use prevention.”
The UPC, according to the DDB, was designed “based on the International Standards on Drug Use Prevention and was developed to meet recent demands for evidence-based practices in the area of substance use prevention.”
“Prevention works, we always remind ourselves. And truly, prevention stands as our greatest weapon against the drug menace. Prevention affords us the chance to shield people from the harm that drug dependency brings,” DDB Deputy Executive Director for Operations, Assistant Secretary Maria Belen Angelita V. Matibag said in her statement during the opening ceremonies at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.
During the closing ceremony, DDB Chair Catalino S. Cuy said, “This is very timely, with the current situations going on related to illegal drugs in the country, like the mandatory drug testing proposed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and also the lowering of the age for juvenile to be charged for crimes committed. This is part of the suggestion in order to adjust to the changing dynamics of crime.”
“Nowadays, we hear of children being used in the drug trafficking, as courier,” he added.
Mr. Cuy also said that the DDB recently met with its Indonesian counterpart to discuss the Philippine’s community-based rehabilitation program.
“They were asking us whether it is successful. We said that we are still starting with it, but so far we see the community-based rehabilitation program as the most practical and most doable step in order to address the problem. For the past two years, with the law enforcement efforts, there were [about] 1.3 million who surrendered. Mostly are drug users,” he narrated.
Mr. Cuy told the ASEAN participants that they are “important allies in the cause [that the Philippines] is fighting for.” — Arjay L. Balinbin