Willie Ong wants a public health approach to tackling illegal drugs


Vice-presidential candidate doctor says medication and mental health treatment for drug addicts should be made available

MANILA, Philippines — Manila Mayor Isko Moreno’s running mate, Willie Ong, is tapping into his expertise as a doctor to weigh in on how the country should respond to illegal drugs.

‘A Young, Hindi’ and Best’ Criminal Justice Approach to Solving the War on Drugs. Kailangan natin’ yung public health approachhe said on Saturday, February 26 during CNN Philippines’ vice presidential debate.

(The criminal justice approach is not always the best way to solve the war on drugs. We need a public health approach.)

An internist and cardiologist with a sizable online following due to her health advice vlogs, Ong said drug addiction is first and foremost a disease that can be treated with medical care.

“Our objective must be scientific. We need to reduce user stigma, increase free drugs because there are drugs to cure or resolve addiction,” he said in Filipino.

Without directly mentioning President Rodrigo Duterte and alleged law enforcement abuses in drug raids, Ong nonetheless criticized any purely punitive drug policy.

Hindi puwede ‘yung ikukulong tapos pagbalik, magiging adik sila ulit. Paparamihin’ yung psychologist, psychiatrist at ililibre’ yung mga gamot dito,” he said.

(We can’t just jail addicts, then when they get out, they’re addicts again. We’ll increase the number of psychologists, psychiatrists, and make addiction drugs free.)

Ong, as in his other responses to the debate, touted Mayor Moreno’s policies in Manila, saying “97%” of drug suspects arrested in his flag-bearing city are captured alive.

Like Moreno, Ong said he believes the Philippines should join the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has suspended its investigation into Duterte’s war on drugs.

Moreno said he would continue Duterte’s war on drugs, but only in the sense that supply-side repression would be relentless. The mayor said his version of the war on drugs would avoid extrajudicial executions.

The Manila leader, however, said he would not hand Duterte over to the ICC if they convicted him of crimes against humanity during his administration.

Moreno said he would prefer Duterte to be arrested by local authorities following a verdict in Philippine courts. – Rappler.com


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