Manila: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has inaugurated the country’s biggest rehabilitation centre for drug addicts.
The facility, located at an army base in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, can house 10,000 patients once it is fully operational.
In a speech he delivered on Tuesday afternoon at the camp in Laur, Nueva Ecija, Duterte said the new centre, called the Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre (DTRC), would be a symbol of the government’s anti-drugs campaign.
The multimillion peso facility was constructed with the help of donors such as Chinese billionaire Huang Rulun.
Duterte, upon assumption of office in July 1, 2016, unleashed a drug war that has left thousands dead.
Speaking at the official opening of the rehab centre, he said drugs remain a serious threat, months into the campaign.
“Drugs are a very virulent agent in any society. The campaign against drugs will continue until the last day of my term. I will not stop until the last drug pusher is out of the street and the last drug lord or king killed,” he said.
“That is my promise. I don’t care about media whether it’s international or local. That is not my problem anymore. Elections are over and what I need to do is just to comply with my promise,” he said.
Duterte has been criticised both locally and internationally for his perceived violent campaign versus drugs. But he remains defiant.
“What I can promise is that I will finish what I had started. If the criminals resist and put up a fight, they will get killed. My orders are specific: Go and find them, apprehend them, arrest them. If they choose to fight violently, and you find yourself in danger, as a soldier and as a military man, go ahead and kill him. That’s about it. That’s the law. I was all along using the law,” he said.
Alongside the government’s campaign to eliminate drug dealers, the health department is building up its capacity to rehabilitate patients.
Dr Eric Tayag, health department spokesperson said the DTRC in Fort Magsaysay would initially accommodate 2,000 patients but later on serve up to 10,000.
Aside from the Fort Magsaysay rehabilitation centre, the government also plans to put up similar facilities in other locations where there are military camps such as Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, Camp Alfredo Santos in Quezon, Camp Peralta in Capiz, Camp Kibaritan in Bukidnon, Camp Lucero in North Cotabato and Camp Paulino Santos also in the same province.
Rehabilitation centres in the Philippines are mainly two types — government-run and private sector operations.
Department of Health Secretary Dr Paulyn Ubial said society should regard drug addicts as victims of the illegal drug trade.
“We want to ensure that they have adequate and passionate services for rehabilitation,” she said.