18 October 2016

Duterte administration announces soft opening of Nueva Ecija drug rehabilitation center
The Department of Health (DOH) has announced the soft opening of the government-run drug rehabilitation center in Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija, which could accommodate 10,000 patients in full capacity.

“The facility has been partially finished by October 17, that was yesterday, and our personnel, who were hired for that facility, about 1,000 of them, are now actually viewing the facility and having a dry run on how to manage the patients that will be referred to that facility come November,” Heath Secretary Paulyn Ubial said in an press briefing in Malacañan on Tuesday, October 18.

The formal opening of the mega drug treatment and rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija will be in November, she said.

Ubial said the 2,500-bed capacity was turned over last Monday, October 17. The remaining 7,500-bed capacity will be handed over on November 16, 2016.

The construction of the 100,000-square meter rehabilitation center was through the donation of Chinese businessman Huang Rulun, following Ubial’s visit to Beijing last September.

The Nueva Ecija drug rehabilitation center will accommodate one to two percent of the close to 800,000 drug dependents who have so far surrendered to authorities. One percent of the around 800,000 surrenderers is around 8,000 according to Ubial.

The government has so far trained over 1,000 medical personnel from the local government units and the DOH is accrediting them to become frontline health workers for assessment of drug dependents.

Qualification for in-patient rehabilitation in Fort Magsaysay will depend on their history of drug use as well as the result of their urine and blood tests, the Health Secretary said.

“So ‘yung mga nag-positive sa screening, ‘yun ang iko-commit natin for the in-patient treatment,” she said.

Asked by reporters about the Department of Health’s budget for the mega rehabilitation center to be put up in different locations, Ubial said they have no allocation in the current budget.

The DOH chief however said they have been using the Quick Response Fund and have sub-allotted P130 million to the existing treatment and rehabilitation centers to double their original capacity. It has also allocated around P15 million to hire new employees in Region III.PND

President Duterte signs law postponing barangay elections this October
President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections scheduled late this month, the Palace announced on Tuesday, October 18.

Quoting Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) assistant secretary Marie Banaag said the law was already signed by the President.

“But he just had to wait for the courier, the aircraft that would bring home the signed law and for proper transmittal to the proper offices,” Banaag said in a press briefing in Malacañan.

In his previous public pronouncements, the President said he is against the conduct of the barangay polls because many barangay officials are involved in the illegal drug trade.

Pushing through with the election will entrench them in power, President Duterte said, as narco-politics already has a grip on the country’s political system.

The Duterte administration has carried out a relentless campaign against illegal drugs, with close to 800,000 drug users and pushers surrendering to authorities.

The President vowed to continue the campaign until the last drug addict or drug trafficker is driven out of the streets .PND