Filipino Drug Addicts Make Coffins In Rehab

REUTERS/Erik De Castro

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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One Filipino city is taking an interesting approach to the nation’s drug problem and rehabilitating drug addicts by having them build coffins.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has ended the lives of 3,600 people. To avoid death, around 700,000 drug criminals have turned themselves in to authorities. Now, the state is struggling to rehabilitate them.

Some addicts in the city of Olongapo, a city three hours to the north of Manila where 400 drug addicts have surrendered, make coffins as a component of their rehabilitation program, reports Reuters. Users are taught woodworking and carpentry skills and paid $103 a month to manufacture white, plywood coffins.

The coffins are provided to poor families who can’t pay for funeral services.

The significance of what they are doing is not lost on the drug addicts. “I knew that if I don’t change, I will be in one of those caskets,” a 44-year-old former drug addict told reporters.

The drug situation is severe. There are an estimated 4 million drug addicts in the Philippines, and the number of available rehabilitation centers is limited.

Duterte has been in office for a little over 100 days. While the first phase of the drug campaign focused on eradicating pushers and dealers, the next phase will be directed at rehabilitating drug addicts.

“We’re shifting very quickly from a national security mode into the public health mode, especially regarding drugs,” explained Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar announced last week that the Philippines plans to construct more rehabilitation centers. The Health Department introduced a program in August that will incorporate drug rehabilitation into PhilHealth.

China has also agreed to help the Philippines construct more drug rehabilitation facilities and offer much needed assistance.

More than two-thirds of the Filipino population approves of Duterte’s drug war; however, they would like to see more arrests and less murders.

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