Press Release
November 17, 2007

Loren laments apathy towards plight of 'solvent' boys

Senator Loren Legarda warned yesterday that the many boys and girls seen sniffing solvents at thoroughfares could be forced to commit crimes to survive in the face of government and public apathy to their plight.

"They could graduate from sniffing solvents to taking more dangerous drugs, and from asking for alms to snatching or staging hold-ups. They should be at school or at home, but they are not," said Loren.

The senator stressed that the pesky problem mirrors the gravity of poverty and hunger prevailing in the Philippines despite the glowing economic indicators being touted by the government.

In interviews, the solvent-sniffing youths claimed they have acquired the habit to quell hunger fangs as it is cheaper to buy a bottle of solvent for sharing than to buy food.

Loren urged the national government and local government units (LGUs) to unify their efforts to address the problem of the "rugby boys and girls," whose tag was taken from a popular brand of solvent they often use.

"Our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, said that the youth is the future of our country. But what future will that be if street drugs are readily available even to children," she said.

The problem is not limited to those using solvents, but also touches even children who go to school but who are peddled illegal drugs by neighborhood pushers, Loren added.

"The police should really step up its anti-illegal drugs campaign, whether we are talking about shabu, solvents, or other drugs."

Loren pointed out that even Filipino communities abroad are grappling with the menace of illegal drugs, citing a survey conducted last October by the Asian American Drug Abuse Program Inc. (AADAP) in Los Angeles County.

The survey pointed to a disturbing trend of drug abuse among Filipinos, being blamed on social and health problems festering in the community.

According to the survey reported by the US-circulated magazine Philippine Post, the drugs most used by Filipinos are alcohol (97 percent), marijuana (93 percent) and crystal meth or thamphetamine (39 percent).

The survey further revealed that Filipino communities having the highest use and access to crystal meth, also known as shabu, are Carson (63 percent), Long Beach (61 percent) and Historic Filipino town (53 percent).

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