Jakarta. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, or UNODC, announced on Monday (17/04) that it will soon post a dedicated drug policy adviser to work with the Philippine government to enact alternative approaches in combating rising narcotics use in the country.
In an exclusive interview with the Jakarta Globe, Jeremy Douglas, the regional representative of UNODC for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said the adviser will begin working with the Philippine administration in June and serve there for two years.
"His role will be to work alongside the Dangerous Drugs Board, Department of Health and the Drug Enforcement Agency [PDEA] of the Philippines and advise those agencies to implement policy and program options around organized crime, health and drug prevention issues," Douglas said.
UNODC will work closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), which has regional headquarters in the Philippines. Both organizations will focus on improving policy and medical practices for treating drug users.
Douglas said the new UNODC adviser will also help the Philippines government combat transnational organized crime and drug traffickers.
Because most methamphetamine found in the Philippines originates from other countries in the region, the local government – alongside UNODC – will work with neighboring states to combat the narcotics trade in Southeast Asia.
The UNODC adviser will also press both the Dangerous Drugs Board and the Department of Health to adopt treatment-based approaches to combat substance abuse in the country. Those programs are likely to take the form of community-based models that will more effectively encourage users to minimize their substance dependencies.
While Douglas said the current drug situation in the Philippines is "difficult," UNODC "received positive indications from the government" on proposed policy initiatives to combat the rising use of methamphetamine.
The UN office's upcoming role with the Philippines government may be a sign that the Southeast Asian nation is ready to enact alternative approaches to address the issue.
In June 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte launched a bloody war on drugs, which has alarmed the international community over reports of extrajudicial killings.
Reuters reported more than 8,000 suspected drug addicts and dealers have been killed over the past 10 months.