“It’s very oversimplified without looking at the root causes.”The Duterte administration characterizes its efforts, well, in a much more positive light.“People are saying we support you, Mr.
President, because for the first time you can walk in the streets without being bothered by a lot of criminals,” says John Castriciones, undersecretary of the department of the interior and local government.
Occupancy at the Bicutan Rehabilitation Center, for example, has been stretched more than double its capacity of 550 beds. Bien Leabres has been forced to provide less one-on-one counseling and more group therapies and activities.
When patients vent their fears of reintegrating into society (a common occurrence), Leabres listens.“We let it flow so they can have catharsis,” says Leabres, the chief medical doctor at Bicutan.“The challenge for therapists now is to shift the thoughts of the patients from being fearful to motivating them to change,” he adds.
“A lot of the emphasis has been placed on apprehension and killing versus attention to treatment.”Equating drug addicts with criminals has created a climate of fear among users. Duterte’s iron-fisted approach has encouraged over a million alleged drug users and dealers to surrender.
The influx of patients has overwhelmed government rehab centers and challenged doctors to address their patients’ newfound fears.
At the behest of his concerned mother and wife, he decided to seek treatment.
He’s safe now, but still worries about life after rehab.“When I finish rehabilitation, I hope to get a certification from the PDEA [Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency] to clear my name from the watch list.
One of those patients is Ramon, 43, whose name has been changed to protect his identity.
Ramon surrendered to the police in November after motorcycle-riding men killed one of his friends.