34M Filipinos hooked on drugs -- Reyes
People's Journal (Philippines)
July 2, 2005
THE government has expressed alarm over the 3.4 million Filipinos presently hooked on drugs, mostly "shabu," despite efforts by authorities in dismantling 32 clandestine laboratories the past three years in the lucrative drug industry with an estimated income of P300 billion annually.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Angelo T. Reyes, concurrently chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board ( DDB ), in a speech read for him by Undersecretary Wincelito Andanar during the observance of the International Day Against Drug and Illicit Trafficking at the Manila Hotel on Monday, called for a concerted global effort to fight the drug menace that has affected some 200 million worldwide.
Last year, drug lords in the country, many of whom were of Chinese origin have manufactured P300 billion worth of illegal drugs, he said.
During the same period, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency ( PDEA ) dismantled 11 clandestine drug laboratories countrywide and destroyed P20 billion worth of "shabu," dubbed as the poor man's cocaine, Reyes said.
In a message, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan lauded the government around the world in the fight against drugs.
"In doing so, we send a positive message to all people who might be tempted to use drugs: 'Value yourself...make healthy choices'" by avoiding the use of drugs.
"Where drug abuse destroys bodies and minds, sport makes them stronger and healthier. Where drug abuse undermines incentive, sport involves striving for excellence. Where drug abuse threatens relationships, sport enables participation. And where drug abuse preys on aimlessness, sport offers young people focus and structure," Annan said in his message.
Reyes said the drug menace is not only a problem of the Philippines but its tentacles have spread all over the globe, developed and developing nations alike.
The drug problem has been compounded with the HIV epidemic because many drug addicts have shared contaminated needles, according to Dr. Maria Elena F. Borromeo, United Nations AIDS country coordinator, who was one of the speakers.
Borromeo said there is "no magic solution" or "quick fix" to crush the drug menace but for every person to be involved in licking the problem.
In 2004, PDEA destroyed some P40 billion worth of seized drugs, according to Undersecretary Anselmo S. Avenido Jr., PDEA director general.
PDEA also arrested 70,000 individuals during the same period and one half of the number were involved in drug trafficking, Avenido said.