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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, July 21, 2016
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Out-patient program proposed

Hundreds of millions may be saved by the government in reforming thousands of drug users who have surrendered to the Philippine National Police, in line with its Oplan Tokhang campaign, should they adopt the proposed “inexpensive” drug rehabilitation program of Negros Oriental, Rep. Arnie Teves (Neg. Or., 3rd District) said yesterday.

Teves, who admitted being a reformed drug dependent, said he is proposing the “outpatient program” for drug dependents, which is “very much cheaper”, compared to prices in private rehabilitation centers.

Under his proposal, Teves said the government may only spend P2,500 per participant for eight to 12-week sessions, compared to about P90,000 per participant in private rehabilitation centers, in the same period.

“I don't think the government can afford it”, he said.

Instead of using rehabilitation centers for their reformation, Teves, said the therapy sessions will be preferably held in public school classrooms, with 50 dependents as participants.

Reformed or former drug addicts will serve as counselors in therapy sessions, instead of therapists and psychologists among other medical practitioners, stressing that reformed drug dependents can be the best teachers to drug addicts.

From July 1 to 19, more than 16,000 drug pushers and users in the Negros Island Region surrendered to the PNP, police records show.

Teves said the most difficult stage of rehabilitation is how to convince the drug dependents to come out and admit that they are users of prohibited drugs.

Teves, who has written to President Rodrigo Duterte about his proposal, said Rep. Alfredo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd district) will pilot his proposal in the cities of Silay, Talisay and Victorias in his district, while his predecessor, Rep. Henry Pryde Teves, who is now a mayor in Negros Oriental, will also implement his proposed program in his town.

The police reported that 1,569 drug pushers and users surrendered in the district of Benitez, as of July 19

Benitez tapped former Negros Occidental Board Member Patrick Lacson, who admitted being a former drug dependent, to help the outpatient rehab program in the district.

Teves said his proposal was formulated with the help of other reformed drug addicts.

“For chronic relapsers, trouble makers and those who lack interest for their rehabilitation, we will recommend them to a lock-up rehabilitation facility,” he added.

“We are not here to make a profit, but to help,” Teves, whose younger brother is also a former drug dependent, said.*GPB



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