Written by Balay Rehabilitation Centre and the Medical Action Group (MAG) with the technical
support of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
Funded by the European Union under the IRCT’s Data in the Fight against Impunity (DFI) Project.
This report has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The Danish Institute against Torture (DIGNITY) also provided support in the data collection and in other torture prevention and rehabilitation advocacy activities particularly undertaken by Balay Rehabilitation Center. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union nor DIGNITY.
Address Illegal Drug Use through Health Interventions
We, the members of the Medical Action Group (MAG), a health and human rights organization composed of medical doctors, health and allied medical professionals and workers, medical & health sciences students committed to the promotion and protection of the peoples' right to health, welcome the government’s firm resolve to eliminate the widespread use and trafficking of illegal drugs in the country.
As health professionals, we recognize the adverse effects of illegal drug use especially on the youth. We are also fully aware that illegal drug use and trade have destroyed the lives and future of individuals as well as families and communities.
We believe that illegal drug use happens in almost all communities and associated with substantial health and social problems. It is primarily a public health issue with poverty at the root of this serious and widespread phenomenon. MAG stresses the importance of providing treatment and rehabilitation, ensuring access to essential health goods and services, education and decent employment as the necessary conditions to eliminate this drug menace. Rehabilitation is a companion measure to the government’s intensive anti-drug campaign. With the massive number of surrenders, we can’t ignore the need for health interventions. While there are several barriers exist to the provision of health services such as the lack of treatment and rehabilitation centers nationwide due to funding problem and the available services are mainly out-of-pocket, making them unaffordable to the majority in need, concerted efforts should be made. As of now, government-run treatment facilities  are found only in the National Capital Region (NCR), Caraga Region and Regions I, IV-A, V, VI, VII, X and XI. All in all, there are only 42 drug rehabilitation centers nationwide that can cater for only 5,000 patients. Of the 42 drug rehabilitation centers, 14 are state-run while the rest are privately operated. The community and family can definitely help through the establishment of community-based programs, drug after care or local support interventions for out-patients.
"The Philippines has been plagued for decades by systemic impunity, evidenced by the current widespread practice of torture and extrajudicial executions in the country. Although in 2009, the country enacted a comprehensive Anti-Torture Act, which established a strong framework for the rehabilitation of torture victims and the documentation of their torture experience, these provisions of the Act have not been implemented. Together with MAG, the IRCT has worked to fight impunity by strengthening civil society and health sector partnerships to implement the Anti-Torture Act and to provide rehabilitation and documentation services to victims."
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Forensic Experts from the IRCT with the participants of the three-day training on Istanbul Protocol
The Medical Action Group (MAG), of which Dr. Pagaduan-Lopez a member and former head of its program, Philippine Action Concerning Torture (PACT), welcomed her reelection, saying "this will considerably strengthen the mandate of the SPT in torture prevention particularly in the field of mental health rehabilitation of torture survivors and their families."
Dr. June Caridad Pagaduan-Lopez
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The Committee urges the State to stop and prevent extrajudicial killings and any form of violence against drug users; to promptly and thoroughly investigate all reported cases and punish the perpetrators with sanctions commensurate with the gravity of the crime; and to take all necessary measures to ensure that the fight against drug trafficking does not have a discriminatory impact on the poor and marginalized. The Committee also recommends that the State party reconsider the criminalization of drug users; adopt a right-to-health approach to drug abuse with harm reduction strategies, such as syringe exchange programs; and increase the availability of treatment services that are evidence-based and respectful of the rights of drug users.