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China to help the Philippines fight illegal drugs

Reporter: Barnaby Lo 丨 CCTV.com

10-20-2016 10:25 BJT

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's state visit to Beijing this week is expected to restore normal, friendly and cooperative ties between China and the Philippines.

One of the areas where the two countries are seen working together is in Duterte's campaign against illegal drugs. A mega drug rehabilitation facility is set to open in the country next month, and it is being made possible by a Chinese businessman.

Miraculous is the only way Jun, a former drug dealer and addict, can describe how he ended up in this government-run drug rehabilitation facility.

"A week after I surrendered to our local officials, masked men broke into my house and took me away. They kept hitting me with their guns. They tortured me. They were going to kill me but I begged for my life," said "Jun", rehab resident.

"Next thing I knew I was at a police station. I was told I was lucky to have been given a second chance. They told me the only way I will be able to avoid death was to enter rehab.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte launched a heavy crackdown on illegal drugs over three months ago, more than three thousand have been killed either by police in what they say are legitimate anti-drug operations or by unknown assailants.

Hundreds of thousands of drug users and dealers have surrendered. Many of them, like Jun, are now in rehab. This rehabilitation center, the largest in the country, can accommodate up to 1,000 patients. It now has over 1,400.

"It was less than ideal conditions but we had to adjust to the situation. We came up with a community-based program that the local government units can apply," said Dr. Bien Leabres, DOH-TRC Bicutan Rehabilitation Center.

"Within the rehabilitation center in itself, we added additional staff, we rushed the construction of new dormitories, and of course funding and supplies had to come in at the soonest possible time."

But a new drug reform facility may soon take some of the burden off the government's existing rehab centers. A new, 10,000-capacity in-patient facility is being rushed for completion. And it is being built with Chinese money.

While practically the entire Western world has criticized Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, China has pledged to fully support this crusade of Duterte's. This mega drug rehab facility, scheduled to open in November, is being funded by a Chinese businessman.

China's ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua says, construction of an even bigger, Chinese-funded rehab center could start soon. And in China, part of Duterte's agenda is for the two countries to find more ways to work together to combat the drug problem.

Zhao said, "Any Chinese national who has committed crime in the Philippines, they should be brought to justice in accordance to the Philippines' law. And the Chinese government and relevant departments stand ready to cooperate to bring them to justice."

A common enemy was how the Chinese ambassador described illegal drugs, one that China says it intends to help the Philippines beat, one rehab center at a time.

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