House panel pushes for stronger legislation to give anti-drug campaign more teeth

MANILA-- The House Committee on Dangerous Drugs is hammering out pertinent bills that will give more teeth to the Duterte administration's relentless campaign against illegal drugs.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, committee chair and Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers cited the need to come up with provisions and revisions that would address the flaws riddling current anti-drug laws.

I strongly support the administration's war on drugs. As a legislator and as Chairman of the Committee on Dangerous Drugs, it is my duty to craft measures that will address the loopholes in the present laws concerning drug abuse and drug-related crimes, Barbers said.

For one, several amendments have been proposed to strengthen Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

House Bill 588, authored by Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil, seeks to strengthen the anti-illegal drugs unit of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) by enhancing its facilities, increasing its manpower, and developing a systemic, wide-scope inter-agency partnership.

The Barbers-chaired committee is also eyeing a revision, which seeks to fortify anti-drug agents' capabilities in intelligence, investigation, and operation to prevent bungling of cases and ensure high conviction rate against arrested illegal drug pushers, manufacturers, and coddlers.

Meanwhile, House Bills 3406 and 3733 propose amendments to the anti-wiretapping law by excluding suspected drug-related activities from its scope.

Another major legislation pending before the Dangerous Drugs panel is the creation of drug rehabilitation centers nationwide.

Barbers said there are currently 31 bills that seek the creation of drug rehabilitation centers in various areas in the country.

The rehabilitation of drug dependents is one of the key programs of the Duterte administration's anti-drug campaign.

Rehabilitation is also fundamental. Victims need to be rehabilitated if we are to win this war. Without proper rehab, they might go into relapse or resort to other forms of addiction, Barbers said.

"I also think that one of the most essential features in the entire scenario is social integration. We must be ready to provide the less fortunate victims livelihood after rehabilitation. Without means, they will surely go back to their old ways of stealing and other crimes, and the cycle will be complete once again, he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency