Number of drug users declining–DOH

Published by rudy Date posted on January 29, 2009

The Department of Health (DOH) reported a decrease in the number of Filipinos taking illegal drugs in the past several years, according to a statement Wednesday.

The Health department reported that as of mid-2008, only 707 persons out of 2,099,516 were tested positive for illegally using marijuana and shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride, which is also called “ice”).

The figures are based on positive results of random and voluntary drug tests of people applying for driver’s license, firearms permits and employment, the statement explained. The decrease was evident when figures are compared over the past four years.

In 2004, for example, 5,671 out of 3,036,048 were tested positive. The following year, it slipped down to 3,607 out of 3,459,575 who underwent drug tests.

The figure slid also in 2006 to 1,398 out of 3,426,980 tested. And last year, it rose to 2,314 out of 4,075,048 who underwent drug tests.

The figures were based on data provided by the Integrated Drug Testing Operations Management and Information Systems, which was implemented by the Health department to monitor drug-testing activities nationwide.

Drugs in schools

The Health department also said drug use among students is low. Data submitted to the department revealed that only one in 130 high-school students and one in 190 college students use illegal drugs.

The Health department’s second round of random drug tests in schools nationwide is scheduled for February 2009.

The government is expected to spend about P25 million for the random drug testing of 250,000 students, according to previous reports published in The Manila Times, citing an official from the Department of Education.

The random testing is being championed by the Dangerous Drugs Board, headed by former Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd, who argued that this is necessary to stamp out drugs from schools.

But the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights is opposing the move, saying the random testing is ineffective and may violate children’s rights.

Lawyer Adel Tamano, United Opposition spokesman, agreed, saying the resources to be utilized for the drug testing should instead be put to better use like upgrading of facilities, salaries of the faculty and research and development.

President Gloria Arroyo recently ordered the revival of random drug testing to students in the wake of the issue of the “Alabang Boys,” three young, well-off drug suspects. –Rommel C. Lontayao Reporter, Manila Times

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