MANILA -- The Department of Health’s (DOH) spokesperson on Thursday strongly denied allegations that patients, who attempt to escape from the Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DATRC) in Nueva Ecija, are physically abused.

"I-clarify ko po dun sa allegations na may mga beatings or physical abuse na nangyayari sa Mega DATRC: wala pong beatings na nangyayari. Wala pong abuse, physical abuse (Let me clarify allegations that there are beatings or physical abuse at the Mega DATRC: No beating occurs there. There is no abuse, physical abuse)," Dr. Corazon Flores said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Flores was commenting on a BBC report last Oct. 13, quoting a man who wanted to remain anonymous that “some of the escapees have received beatings while another said they were being punished with solitary confinement”.

She admitted that while it is true that some patients do attempt to escape during their period of rehab and treatment, the only sanction they receive is isolation.

"Ang ginagawa po ng disciplinary committee ng rehab center ay nilalagay po sila sa isolation area within the community… So may mga nag-a-attempt po na umalis ng Mega DATRC pero syempre po, dahil meron tayong mga security guards sa security facilities, namo-monitor po sila and of course, binibigyan ng karapat-dapat na disciplinary action (The rehab center’s disciplinary committee puts escapees in an isolation area within the community… There are those who try to leave the Mega DATRC but since we have security guards in the facility, their attempted escape is monitored and they are given appropriate disciplinary action)," she explained.

Flores said disciplinary actions are based on how grave the offense was.

"Kapag may nag-attempt po na mag-escape (If one attempts to escape), we put them in (an) isolation room within the community while processing their sanctions," she said, adding that among their reasons for escaping are family problems, “mostly financial".

Currently, the rehab center in Nueva Ecija houses 494 patients.

Although confinement is on a voluntary basis or at the request of immediate family members of a patient assessed to be a "severe" drug user, admission to the rehab center requires a court order.

The rehab center was constructed in Camp Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija through the donation of Chinese billionaire-philanthropist Huang Rulun, in his desire to help President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign to eradicate the country’s drug problem.

It was inaugurated in November last year. (PNA)