MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, February 8, called former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria an “idiot” for “lecturing” him on the war on drugs.
Duterte berated Gaviria in his speech at the 115th founding anniversary of the Bureau of Customs, while discussing his campaign against illegal drugs.
Gaviria, who was president of Colombia from 1990 to 1994, had given the Philippine leader advice on fighting illegal drugs in an opinion piece he wrote for the New York Times entitled, “President Duterte is repeating my mistakes,” published February 8. (READ: Colombian ex-president to Duterte: Force won’t solve drug war)
Referring to the piece, which pointed out that a drug war cannot be won solely on police and military might, Duterte said: “To tell you frankly, sabi nila ‘yung [they say that] Colombia [leader] has been lecturing about me. That idiot.”
The President said that the situations in Colombia and the Philippines are different because of the kind of illegal drugs trafficked in those countries.
“You know, doon, cocaine. Cocaine pati heroine, not really; cocaine pati marijuana, medyo okay ’yan. You can still communicate,” he explained. (You know, they have cocaine there. Cocaine and heroine, not really; cocaine and marijuana are kind of okay. You can still communicate.)
But in the case of the Philippines, he said, most drug addicts are hooked on shabu or methampetamine, which has among its ingredients the chemical used in manufacturing batteries.
“The fact alone that it is mixed using battery water will give you an indication of what’s going to happen inside your brain,” Duterte said.
The President lamented that he had been “receiving so many lectures, communications, and criticisms” on his drug war, but with around 4 million to 5 million drug addicts in the country, the public should be more understanding when it comes to legitimate government operations to stamp out the drug menace.
While he berated Gaviria and pointed to what he believed to be differences in the drug problems of the Philippines and Colombia, Duterte’s top cop, Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa, went to Colombia in September 2016 to “see how they won the war on drugs.”
He reiterated his earlier vow to take “full legal responsibility” for any lapses committed by authorities in the performance of their duties, following his orders.
“These extrajudicial killings and issues, just put it aside. For those really done in the performance of duty, ‘wag yung iba (not the other cases), I take full legal responsibility. And if there’s somebody who should go to prison, it’s not the policemen; it is not the military; it is not the Customs; the PDEA; ako (me). Me. I will answer for anything that I ordered and I am obeyed, following the law,” he said.
The President’s tirade against Gaviria, who is now part of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, did not jibe with the statement of his spokesman, Ernesto Abella.
Abella, who issued a statement on the Colombian leader’s advice ahead of Duterte’s speech, said, “We respect the opinion of former President Cesar Gaviria that Colombia’s experience of ‘war against drugs’ cannot be won by the armed forces and law enforcement agencies alone.” (READ: IN NUMBERS: The Philippines’ war on drugs)
“The Philippine President rightly understood the same insight when he began to address not just crime and illegal drugs but also broadened government efforts into a public health issue,” he added.
The Palace official noted that the “second phase” of the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs “focuses on the treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependents.”
“We appreciate the ex-Colombian president’s concerns and we encourage our people to see our situation in the light of comprehensive nation-building,” Abella said. – Rappler.com