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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, July 16, 2016
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Guv asks Duterte to tap
PhilHealth in drug rehab

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday sought the support of President Rodrigo Duterte in his call for PhilHealth coverage of drug rehabilitation cost.

“We are confident that this pioneering effort will help sustain the national government's drive against illegal drug use, and will merit your support and eventual approval,” the governor said in a letter to Duterte.

As of last night the number of drug pushers and users in Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, who surrendered to the police, hit 6,071 and 6,489 in Negros Oriental for a total of 12,560.

The governor also told the president that to ensure the success of his campaign against illegal drugs, the Negros Occidental provincial government will allocate an initial fund of P5 million to help indigent former drug dependents seeking rehabilitation at the Ang Dalangpan rehabilitation center in Victorias City or at the New Beginnings in Bacolod City.

The governor said he is calling a meeting of the 32 town and city mayors of Negros Occidental in an effort to rally support for the president's all-out anti-drug campaign, and to encourage them to further initiate the establishment of drug rehabilitation centers in their areas if the situation calls for it.

Marañon told the president he is willing to discuss further details of the province's program at any time most convenient to him.

The governor said two weeks into Duterte's presidency the campaign against illegal drugs has led to the surrender of more than 5,000 in Negros Occidental alone.

“Such a feat by your administration is certainly laudable a step in the right direction,” the governor told Duterte.

A sustainable approach to better manage former drug users must be put in place, which includes drug rehabilitation, to prevent them from returning to their old ways, Marañon added.

The governor told the president his family also benefitted from his anti-illegal drugs campaign with the recent surrender of his nephew, former Sagay Vice Mayor Joseph Gerard Marañon to the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office.

“We were relieved to a large extent by his voluntary act,” the governor said.

"Our family is very thankful ...it seems that with this program we can see the light at the end of the tunnel," he also said

In his letter, Marañon also congratulated Duterte on his assumption as the 16 th president, with high hopes that the country will be able to sustain its economic gains under his able leadership.

The governor said he was writing the president to reiterate his support for his reform agenda that will consequently usher in genuine change, which includes his no let up campaign against illegal drugs.

Yesterday morning, the governor also held a press conference, with Chief Supt. Conrado Capa, Negros Island Region police director, and Senior Supt. William Señoron, Negros Occidental police director, at the Capitol in Bacolod City to announce the provincial government's drug rehabilitation plan.

Marañon said he was also sending a letter to PhilHealth asking for the inclusion of rehabilitation of drug dependents in its coverage.

He said he is calling on the congressmen and mayors of Negros Occidental to help in setting up of drug rehabilitation facilities, saying the provincial government cannot afford to do it alone.
He pointed out that the Ang Dalangapan in Victorias City, to which the provincial government has been providing assistance through the years, has a maximum capacity for 80 and, so far, has 22 patients.

New Beginnings in Bacolod City that has a capacity for 22 patients is full, Raffy Remitio, who runs the place, said.

The P5 million that the provincial government will allocate will be used for the rehabilitation of drug dependents most urgently in need of help, he said.

He said that, during rehabilitation, the former drug dependents will be taught livelihood skills to prepare them for livelihood opportunities.

The governor also commended the police for what he called their splendid effort to get drug pushers and users in the province to surrender.

Señoron said the national anti-drug campaign has resulted in a scarcity in supply of illegal drugs and a drop in demand.

Capa said the surrenderees are subjected to profiling where their pictures, names, addresses and fingerprints are taken. They also undergo interviews, which is very advantageous to the police, he added.

The surrenderees will also have to regularly report to barangay officials or the police like those who are on probation, Capa added.

We will know who among them will return to pushing and using drugs and will go after them, he said.

Capa assured that the police will not allow vigilante operations to eliminate the drug problem.

“That will worsen the problem, our operations will be above board and shootouts will be subject to automatic review,” he added.

He also vowed to go after cops who may have drug links.*CPG

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