DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 03 February) – The drug menace in the country puts a strain on the ability of the government to achieve the government’s AmBisyon Natin 2040, the “collective long-term vision and aspiration” of the Filipinos to enjoy a “strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure life” by 2040, Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said.
During the “Rehabinasyon: The First National Anti-Drugs Summit” at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao on Sunday, Edillon said the drug problem in the country is a serious obstacle in the government’s socioeconomic goals.
“We think the drug menace .. poses a serious obstacle to the attainment of the AmBisyon whether you are the user, whether you are the pusher, or a victim or innocent bystander… drug is really a problem,” she said in her presentation on the “Socioeconomics of the Drug Menace in the Philippine Society.”
She said illegal drugs can dampen the vision on “matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay” (strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure life) as it results to low human capital and low productivity among drug dependents, drives away investments that would create opportunities, and strains relationships.
Edillon said financial losses and risks among the drug dependents are also very high as illegal drugs use leads to poor health, affecting the vision on secure life for the Filipino people.
“All those investments are diverted away from the country because … of that perception of having this drug menace in this community,” she said.
She explained that based on “conservative” estimates made by the government, if the output from the “illegal drugs” sector and the lost labor productivity were devoted to productive activities, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth of the country would have been 6.5% in 2018 instead of 6.2%.
“That’s actually how big … the economic impact is of the illegal drugs. What is not included here are those investments that did not come into the country, into the community because of this perceived problem of the drugs, the victims, the casualties in the drug menace,” she said.
She said the solution to the drug menace requires economic, social, cultural and legal dimensions.
She said the estimated forgone taxes of P4 billion would have helped the government fund vital social programs such as education and health.
In addressing the drug problem in the country, Edillon emphasized the need for a supportive family and community and a caring state.
“We need a strong state because of the enforcement part to curtail the demand and supply, and we also need a caring state, in order to rehabilitate and restore those are lost so that they become productive members of the society and we can all attain the life we want, the AmBisyon, every Filipino will be empowered, will be enabled,” she said.
She added the drug reformists must be given the opportunities to be productive members of the society. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)