The Church of Scientology Mission of Manila, whose Scientology Volunteer Ministers were recognized for their humanitarian work following Typhoon Durian last December, is back in the news on a different, but no less important subject this week. And that subject is "demand reduction" — education on the truth about drugs to combat drug abuse before it starts.
In recent years local law enforcement officials have estimated illegal drugs to be a $5 billion a year industry with almost 2 million drug users in the Philippines. And according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) methamphetamine, ecstasy and prescription drug abuse are on the rise among youth in the country.
The Philippines is also home to bands of inhalant-sniffing teens, often referred to as "rugby boys," for the cheap contact cement known as "rugby" that is their drug of choice.
Recognizing the importance of this problem, the director of the Church of Scientology Mission of Manila, Robert Anderson, decided to do something effective. So, last week he met with representatives of the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to offer his help.
He brought with him copies of anti-drug booklets produced by the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, a secular non-profit organization based in Los Angeles, California, established to meet the increasing demand for the international "Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Life" drug prevention program, which members of Scientology churches and other volunteer organizations have been conducting for over 20 years around the world.
These booklets provide young people with factual information about the most commonly abused substances, including cannabis, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and painkillers. By having the facts, youth are empowered to withstand pro-drug propaganda and peer pressure so they can make their own educated choices on the subject.
Mr. Anderson also told the PDEA about the Drug Free Ambassadors program, based on the Drug-Free Marshals of the USA. This campaign, launched 14 years ago in Los Angeles, is a grassroots youth-based program in which children pledge to live drug-free lives and to help their friends and family steer clear of drugs as well.
The PDEA immediately saw the value of these educational booklets, and wants to help translate them into the various dialects of the region and use them in their own anti-drug program called "Counter Drug" to reach as many young people as possible with the truth about drugs.