Leaders of Sangguniang Kabataan from Metro Manila on Friday discussed the importance of a public health approach in treating illegal drug use and addiction in barangays.
In a forum in Quezon City, 70 SK leaders tackled alternative programs to the administration’s criminal approach in eradicating illegal drugs.
“The drug problem in our society is a social and public health concern,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said in Filipino, addressing SK leaders mostly from Caloocan City, where many alleged drug users were reportedly killed in Oplan Tokhang.
“I suggest that the evidence, study, and research that we acquired from analysis and experience should be the basis of our actions, of our law enforcement projects and campaigns,” Hontiveros said.
Last year, Hontiveros filed Senate Bill 1313 or the Public Health Intervention for Drug Use Act that aims to adapt a rehabilitative manner in treating drug addiction instead of a punitive one.
In the bill, Hontiveros noted that local government units were integral part of the community-based drug intervention for people who use drugs.
The senator also said “diversion,” such as sports and education, were important strategies to keep the youth away from illegal drugs.
She also challenged the SK leaders to implement programs beneficial to the youth to prove that they deserve the power that they have.
“We may have good intentions, but if we do not execute it [sic] well, the outcome would be compromised,” said Pasig City Councilor Vico Sotto, one of the speakers.
The SK conference was organized by Akbayan, Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking, and Kaisahan, that gathered the first batch of SK leaders elected in May after the reform law was passed.