Japan starts study mission to help Philippines battle illegal drugs
Japan formally started on Monday its study mission to find out how it could assist the Philippine government in its campaign against illegal drugs.
Katsuyuki Kawai, special assistant to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, called on President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang where they discussed possible ways on how Tokyo could help Manila on the war on drugs.
Kawai expressed confidence Japan could provide the "highest skill assistance" to the Philippines in its fight against the drug menace.
He said this is the first time Japan has sent a research group about drug rehabilitation program abroad.
Kawai said Japan has achieved the world’s highest success in drug abuse prevention and education.
Before meeting Duterte, Kawai and other mission members, visited the Department of Health Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Bicutan, Taguig City.
Except for the newly-opened mega rehabilitation center inside a military camp in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija which has the capacity of 10,000 once completed, the center in Taguig City is so far the country’s biggest facility with a capacity of 550 patients.
But the number of residential patients more than doubled to 1,291, composed of 1,174 males and 117 females. Of the total number of patients, 24 are children, the youngest is 10 years old female. The oldest patient is a 77-year old male.
During Kawai's visit, officials of the facility briefed the Japanese mission of the current situation of the rehabilitation center and the need to expand it due to the increasing number of patients being admitted.
According to Bien Leabres, head of the medical section of the rehabilitation center in Taguig, previously the average number of patients at a given time was 1,000.
"But because of the drug campaign, we expect the number of patients to continue to increase," Lesbres said, adding, "we are very much congested now."
In his presentation, he cited the need for more beds, funds and supplies, employment of additional professional staff, their training, and additional vehicles.
He said they are planning to build a 6-storey building, which could accommodate 2,000 patients.
The Japanese mission will also visit Davao City.
Kawai said whatever would be discussed with the Philippine officials would be in his report to Abe.
Since July 1, shortly after Duterte assumed office, the number of drug suspects killed reached to more than 5,000 and over 2,000 perished in police operations. The rest died allegedly due to vigilantes.
The number of drug addicts and users who "surrendered" to authorities reached to over 780,000. Celerina Monte/DMS