Press Release
November 22, 2010


2:00 p.m.

(Recognition of Guests) Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good Afternoon.

I am at home. If there is any group of people I am at home with, this is it. Our mission and shared scars in the fight against illegal drugs bear witness to this.

Sociologists and psychologists say that we have public and private lives. Since we have public and private hearts, we have public and private homes. In the field of public service, we all here are one in heart in the fight against dangerous drugs.

For convenience, our home needs a house, and that house is the Dangerous Drugs Board, and standing a pillar at its core and center like a pigeon house, is the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. It is our humble abode where we seek renewed inspiration and strength to look the enemy in the eye and seek to establish a drug-resistance Philippines. Yes, we need a shelter from the storm of everyday warfare against our numerous enemies. And that house is where we celebrate and observe Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week which we are mandated to do every third week of November, under Presidential Proclamation No. 124 issued on November 28, 2001.

I find the theme of this year's observance, "Think Health...Not Drugs," very relevant since the use of dangerous drugs is a health issue.

You invited me as your guest speaker, but I must confess that you know my views on the subject matter at hand. Wala na kong masasabing hindi pa ninyo alam. You are here in your job everyday, and you know the details more than I do. But let me give you some things that occupy my mind on this topic dangerous drugs.

First. Importante ang ating trabaho.

We are saving the Filipino youth in this task, knowing that our young are the dangerous-drugs targets. They are naturally adventurous and seek peer approval. They also want to rebel in their own way as they enter into adulthood. We must stop the seduction of drugs preying on our youth. Yung mga matatandang addict, wala na tayong magagawa. Time and the poison they ingest will ultimately solve the problem for us. But we cannot allow our youth, our future, to go to waste.

To show its importance, in the United States, the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is considered part of the cabinet of the President of the United States. I believe we should do the same, to show the priority this administration gives to the problem of dangerous drugs.

Secondly, ayos naman ang ating mga layunin.

The global strategy is still double-barreled - Supply Reduction and Demand Reduction. We have known these decades ago and have built our programs around it, but evil forces, like viruses, have a way of mutating and skirting around our dragnets. We must be vigilant and innovate in our combat strategies.

Thirdly, mag-ingat sa mga estadistika at mga bagong mungkahi ng First World countries.

When I attended more than a year ago the United Nation's Conference on Drugs and Crime, at Vienna, Austria, I was surprised to learn that one of the biggest nations in the world submitted a very low number of drug dependents, using the number of detainees as their baseline data. This is misleading. If we use the same parameters, we should have the lowest drug incidence in the world, because we have very few drug-related detainees and rehab patients, for the reason that we lack adequate facilities. Statistics on drugs are among the hardest to get with authoritative accuracy, simply because drug dependents are not among the most honest and open in the world. They naturally cover their use of it, so at best, statistics are merely symptomatic.

Again, let us be careful about the Harm Reduction strategy recommended by some economically-advanced countries. Their philosophy is: tutal, hindi na sila mapipigilan sa paggamit ng droga o sa pagtuturok ng bawal na sustansya, ang mabuti pa ay bigyan na lang sila ng kanilang mga gobyerno ng libre at malilinis na karayum sa pang-iniksiyon at nang hindi sila magkahawahan ng HIV-AIDS. Ang pangpapatamis ng kanilang argumento po ay ito - para hindi kumalat ang HIV-AIDS na galing sa kuntaminadong mga karayom.

Finally, mayroong mga bagay na ating dapat pag- isipan.

1. What is our main aim - is it punitive justice or reformative justice. Must we see the problem from the point of view of the drug-user or from the point of view of protecting society and incarcerating the drug offender. We must look for the propert balance between these two ideas.

2. What specific provisions must we amend in our present laws and other police and administrative procedures so that cases can be speedily concluded?

3. What linkages and interconnection must we establish within the country and with other nations?

We need a continuing task force for strategy formulation, legal and administrative manualization of procedures, monitoring bodies, and implementing arms. This is rightfully on the table of the Dangerous Drugs Board and its policy-making mandate. We need a congressional auditor both from the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as the Courts, to be part of the observers group in the Dangerous Drugs Board.

We have a deadline to meet. We must make our country and Asean drug-free by 2015. Time is running out. The future is now. Only us, here, are looked upon to lead in this crusade. We cannot fail. Aside from the scourge of jueteng politics, the graver danger is narco-politics.

With that, the Senate is behind the DDB in this fight. Thank you and good day.

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