Press Release
September 8, 2017

Villanueva lauds gov't's consideration of his request to re-evaluate drug war

Senator Joel Villanueva has acknowledged the recent Palace statement which considers the senator's previous call to reevaluate war on drugs.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Friday that the government is "in the process of rethinking" the way it handles its campaign against illegal drugs due to the recent uproar on the killings of teenagers Kian Loyd delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz, and Reynaldo de Guzman.

"We are glad that Palace is heeding our call in re-evaluating war on drugs. We can win this without bloodshed," Villanueva said.

On Wednesday, the senator also urged the government, particularly the Philippine National Police, "to rethink its approach in addressing our drug problem."

The senator cited the results established during the Senate hearings showing the gaps in the protocols of how our police operates: in terms of coming up with suspects, how they identify areas where they will operate, and their protocols when seniors and minors are around.

"Recent vigilante killings show that our police force has no complete control of criminality. It is important to reevaluate our strategy and consider stopping this aggressive campaign as this has become out of control."

Villanueva further shared other alternatives of some countries that have proven effective in addressing the rampant spread of illegal drugs.

In Portugal, those found in possession of drugs for personal use are being compelled to face a local panel composed of professionals in the field of law, health, and social work. Low-level drug offenders are also given sanctions ranging from fines to community service.

Portugal's campaign against illegal drugs resulted to a decrease in the number of drug-related problems.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the country's drug problem reduced to 24% in 2013 from 44% in 1999.

Meanwhile, Switzerland focused on therapy, harm reduction and massive public information drive on the consequences of drug use which resulted in a positive outcome on its campaign against illegal drugs.

In harm reduction, a drug dependent receives "medically-controlled doses of heroin" which targets to minimize the spread of disease. They also give drug dependents medical and psychological care.

The latest number of drug-related deaths in Switzerland is at 152 from 405 in 1991.

On the other hand, the senator also recognizes the link of poverty to drug use.

According to an article published by the National Council on Drug Abuse, one of the risk factors for drug use is poverty.

It says that people in impoverished neighborhoods are more susceptible to drug use as a way to cope with reality or financial stresses. Selling drugs is also an option for them to earn easy money.

"With the recent outcome of events, it would be best to look at things at a broader perspective. Poverty incidence is still very high and this is correlated to drug dependence and selling of illegal drugs at the lower rungs of our society. It is wise to focus on economic and social development to address poverty along side other effective interventions on substance abuse that we can learn from the experience of other countries" Villanueva said.

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