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DDB chief resigns after comment on mega drug rehab center

November 16, 2017 ·  By Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) for www.philstar.com

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In this photo, the Dangerous Drugs Board said that it will launch its "Love Life. Fight Drugs" campaign that "aims to change the prevailing law enforcement focused narrative of the anti-drug campaign." A day later, DDB Chief Dionisio Santiago said that the government's massive drug-rehabilitation facillity project is a "mistake" and "impractical." The STAR/Janvic Mateo

In this photo, the Dangerous Drugs Board said that it will launch its “Love Life. Fight Drugs” campaign that “aims to change the prevailing law enforcement focused narrative of the anti-drug campaign.” A day later, DDB Chief Dionisio Santiago said that the government’s massive drug-rehabilitation facillity project is a “mistake” and “impractical.” The STAR/Janvic Mateo

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:15 p.m.)
— Dangerous Drugs Board chairman Dionisio Santiago has filed his resignation four months after being appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Santiago’s resignation comes in the wake of comments that construction of a large-scale drug rehabilitation facility in Nueva Ecija had been a mistake.

Santiago, on October 31, said the government’s proposal to construct a Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija is a “mistake” and “impractical.”

The Palace has defended the project saying government did not spend to build the facility because a Chinese businessman had donated funding for it. The facility, which is underutilized, can also be used as housing for soldiers or for other purposes, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.

Santiago also said that the DDB has already submitted a proposal to Malacañang for a “balanced approach” to tackling the drug menace.

In a press conference on October 30, Santiago also said that the DDB will launch its new campaign “Love Life. Fight Drugs” that would focus on the government’s “left-hand approach” in its crackdown on illegal drugs.

Santiago said that it aims to change the “narrative” surrounding the government’s bloody war against illegal drugs.

He added: “The fight against drugs is about protecting the life of the people. It is about the life of a drug user who needs help to free himself or herself from drug independence. It is about protecting the life of people against the threats of drugs.”

It was President Rodrigo Duterte who ordered Santiago to tender his resignation.

PhilStar.com has reached out to Santiago for comment, but he has yet to respond to text messages and calls.

Malacañang has yet to confirm Santiago’s resignation as of this post.

Before assuming chairmanship of the DDB, Santiago served as the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s director general during the administrations of presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III. He was Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff before that.

Santiago had been appointed to replace Benjamin Reyes, whom Duterte had fired for contradicting an estimate that there are around 4 million drug addicts in the Philippines. According to the most recent DDB survey, there are around 1.8 million drug users in the country, not all of whom are drug dependents or addicts.

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