In November 2016, which is less than a month away, the government's drug rehab center in Nueva Ecija which can accommodate 10,000 patients will be operational.
The Duterte administration is less than four (4) months old. So, some find it incredible that this project is its brainchild alone. Its paternity or maternity must be shared with another administration because the project--from planning to construction - could not be completed in less than four months. The obvious picture they want painted is that the project was planned by the previous administration and implemented by the fledgling Duterte dispensation. This was pointed out by one netizen who said he is very familiar with construction and who currently audits much bigger construction projects in another country.
If it is important to attribute credit, then we give it where it is due. And it belongs to the Duterte government. All along, while we were getting a regular dose of the President's verbal diarrhea against drugs, his government was quietly constructing the facility.
How did it happen in less than four months, the incredulous ask? It cannot be. The project must have been planned by the previous administration, they say.
I watched Duterte's interview with Al Jazeera where he said some things that made me squirm regarding the drug issue but also revealed how determined he is to create a generation of Filipinos unafflicted by drug addiction. In the same interview, he stressed that the 2016 budget prepared by the Aquino dispensation does not include funds for a drug rehabilitation facility. This is easy to explain. The Aquino government did not see a drug menace lurking in Philippine society. It knew that the country had, as of 2014, some 3M drug addicts as reported to it by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. But it did not consider the problem serious, otherwise why the apathy? In fact, more than apathy to the evils from the menace, it even created a favorable political climate to make the National Penitentiary the principal office of the drug trade in the country. This was through Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Aquino's alter ego, who gave hardened criminals privileges just so they could become big-time drug lords to raise money for her.
Without government money for a drug rehabilitation center, Pres. Duterte harnessed the generosity of one Chinese philanthropist who was very willing to provide the much-needed money: Huang Rulun. Mr Huang, before he made it big, did business in the Philippines and made some fortune here. He was just so happy for the opportunity to pay back. (And this got me thinking: Why can't the likes of Henry Sy do something as altruistic as this? Or are they more interested in putting mom-and-pop entrepreneurs out of business?)
So things are clear: The Duterte government made that facility happen.
How? I do not know. I only realize now more than ever that political will is the mother of inguenity. Things can happen and happen fast, if the will is there. It is a cause for celebration, not questions. Addicts should be rehabilitated, not killed for no reason other than they are addicts. Now, we know the government has a solution to the drug menace other than the crackdown on pushers claiming innocent lives as vigilantes take advantage of it. Although not often reported, Duterte called on his Cabinet to come up with a plan to help "drug users and pushers who have surrendered to rehabilitate themselves and return to the fold of society as productive members.” As announced by Sec. Judy Taguiwalo, head of DSWD which is one of the lead agencies in the rehabilitation, transformation, and reintegration into society of drug addicts, such plan was already crafted in the form of the National Drug Rehabilitation Program (NDRP).
But maybe, indeed, the completion of the drug rehab center should invite question: How was it done that quickly? I want to know because it can give us lessons on responsive government. We have been so used to a slow or apathetic bureaucracy that a speedy action from it renders us skeptical.