PNP to focus on drug rehab

Dozens of drug users in many parts of the country are surrendering to the police for rehabilitation.

MANILA — After an independent survey has shown that half of Filipinos believe the Philippine National Police is killing innocent people in President Duterte’s war on drugs, the PNP is taking a new tack: keeping drug addicts alive and offering them a new life through rehabilitation.

“Life After Tokhang,” or LIFT, is the PNP’s own drug rehabilitation program, introduced on Thursday to give the brutal campaign against narcotics a humanitarian face.

Director Noel Constantino, chief of the PNP directorate for police community relations, described LIFT as a “progressive community-based recovery and wellness program for drug users.”

He said LIFT would concentrate on drug users who voluntarily surrendered to police in the PNP’s Oplan Tokhang (from the Cebuano words “toktok”—knock—and “hangyo”—plead) operations.

From July 2016 to June 30 this year, 1,309,776 drug addicts surrendered during police sweeps of slums across the country.

Constantino said LIFT would “assist and facilitate complete recovery” of those people from drug abuse and dependence.

More than 3,800 drug suspects who, according to police, refused to surrender and instead put up a fight were shot dead by officers.

Most Filipinos doubt the PNP story, according to the findings of a survey taken by the independent pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) in June.

The poll found that 54 percent of Filipinos believed those drug suspects did not put up resistance, while 49 percent believed the victims were not drug pushers.

More than 2,000 others have been killed by unknown assailants, who rights groups say are hired guns or police themselves.

Constantino said the PNP was concluding a deal with Life Rispondé Foundation Corp. to set the program in motion.

Constantino described the foundation as a nonstock, nonprofit organization designing community-based rehabilitation and outpatient recovery programs for drug users.

He said LIFT would complement the drug rehabilitation and treatment program of the Department of Health.