PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – More than 650,000 drug surrenderers are now back to their normal lives after undergoing rehabilitation programs of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said a total of 654,228 drug users have graduated from the PNP-initiated recovery and wellness program over a period of six years from July 2016 to October 2022.

The graduates represent 53.11 percent of the total of 1,231,894 drug surrenderers who were received by the PNP to undergo a recovery and wellness program which runs from one to three months.

He said the rehabilitation as a weapon in the ongoing illegal drugs campaign to surely gain ground through a holistic approach highlighted by education-based demand reduction.

He noted the successful culmination of the recovery and wellness program for drug users who surrendered to authorities to undergo treatment.

The program is the centerpiece of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Operations through Reinforcement and Education (ADORE), which is the final phase of the PNP anti-illegal drugs strategy, the PNP chief said.

“This is the new face of the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the police that is at the fore of the national strategy against the country’s drug problem. We are hitting hard on the sources of illegal drugs to disrupt or break the supply chain. At the same time, we are pursuing the demand reduction strategy with renewed vigor by promoting drug abuse awareness prevention and resistance education, including the DILG’s (Department of the Interior and Local Government) very own BIDA (Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan) program, among the vulnerable sectors of society," Azurin said in a statement on Thursday.

Interior Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” C. Abalos Jr. earlier said the BIDA program campaign is in line with the commitment of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s administration to continue the campaign against illegal drugs “within the framework of the law and with respect for human rights and with focus on rehabilitation and socio-economic development.”

He said the BIDA advocacy program banks on the best practices of the past DILG programs against illegal drugs and now focuses on combatting the problem via demand reduction.

“The war on (illegal) drugs is like a tree. Kailangan tanggalin natin ang ugat ng puno (We need to address the root of the problem) -- unemployment, lack of education, the family, lahat ito para mapababa natin ang demand (all of these so we could ensure a decrease in the demand for drugs),” Abalos said.

It also calls for the support of local government units, partner government agencies, local stakeholders, and organizations to effectively advocate drug demand reduction to all sectors of the community.

“We urge the different government agencies, the church, the school, private organizations, let us help one another on this war against drugs. Magtulungan tayo, lalo na ang kabataan. Magkaisa tayo. Labanan natin lahat ng (Let us work together, especially the youth. Let us be united. Let us fight all) social ills,” Abalos said.

“By raising awareness and encouraging participation from all sectors of the community in drug demand reduction, we can address the perennial problem of illegal drugs, which threatens peace and order and cause crimes in communities,” he added.

Abalos said BIDA specifically aims to strengthen institutions in the implementation of drug reduction activities, encourage multi-sectoral participation, secure commitments from national government agencies and partner organizations, and raise awareness through information, education, and communication materials. (PNA)