UN offers assistance to Philippines’ rehab program for drug users

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drug suspect
This Aug. 27 photo shows a suspect detained for alleged possession of illegal drugs. -- AFP

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has offered to provide assistance to the Philippine government in its rehabilitation efforts for drug users in the country.

“Regional Representative of the UNODC for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Jeremy Douglas commended the Philippines’ efforts and offered the support and cooperation of UNODC through providing capacity building and technical assistance programs to the Government,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement on Monday, April 2.

Mr. Douglas directed his offer to Secretary Catalino S. Cuy of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and Philippine Ambassador to Austria Maria Cleofe R. Natividad on March 23 in Vienna, Austria.

According to the DFA, Mr. Cuy was in Vienna to attend the 61st session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

“During the discussions, Secretary Cuy provided Mr. Douglas a brief background on the community based treatment currently being implemented in the Philippines as a response to the overwhelming number of drug users who surrendered to the government,” the DFA said.

In his speech at the said event, Mr. Cuy emphasized the comprehensive and balanced approach undertaken by the Philippines through its anti-illegal drug strategy, a press statement from the DDB said.

Mr. Cuy explained: “The strategy provides an extensive framework for law enforcement and penalties for violations and at the same time adopts a compassionate approach to victims of drug abuse by encouraging voluntary treatment and rehabilitation, under an overarching framework which emphasizes respect for human rights.”

The DDB likewise said Mr. Cuy’s statement “apprised the international community of the gains achieved so far of the focused anti-illegal drug campaign in the areas of prevention, treatment and law enforcement.”

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs, according to the DDB, is “the leading United Nations agency on drug policies.”

The said organization “meets annually to bring together more than 3,000 delegates from governments, international organizations, civil society organization, youth and the scientific community.” — Arjay L. Balinbin