Robredo backs ex-Colombian president's advice on drug war
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo is urging the Duterte administration to heed the advice of former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria, who said the battle against illegal drugs won't be won through violence.
Gaviria, in a New York Times opinion piece, said President Rodrigo Duterte is repeating Colombia's mistake of using force to fight illegal drugs. He wrote that they ended up creating new problems in their drug war, with thousands of people killed.
Duterte did not take the former president's "lecture" well, even calling him an "idiot."
But for Robredo, Gaviria's statement must serve as a lesson to keep the Philippines from falling into the same trap. (READ: IN NUMBERS: The Philippines' 'war on drugs')
"Kapag tiningnan natin iyong kasaysayan ng mga iba't ibang bansa na lumaban sa suliranin tungkol sa illegal na droga, nakikita natin iyong mga experiences ng mga bansa na nag-resort sa violence, iyong nag-resort sa pagtingin na ang laban na ito ay isang military game. Walang nag-succeed doon. Hindi lang iyong Colombia," the Vice President said on Thursday, February 9.
(When we look at the history of other countries who fought the drug problem, we see that those countries which resorted to violence and saw the fight as a military game did not suceed – not only Colombia.)
"We might commit the same mistakes that he (Gaviria) did. I hope the government would listen to the experiences of others who already went through the same thing," she also said.
Robredo cited Thailand's case as an example of a failed approach. The Thai government, during the time of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, launched a drug war that killed 2,800 people. An official investigation released in 2007 showed that more than half of the victims of extrajudicial killings had no links to drugs.
Robredo supports Gaviria's suggestion to eliminate the demand for illegal drugs by taking it as a public health and security issue. (READ: War on drugs: Rehabilitation must be more than a knee-jerk reaction)
A founding member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the former Colombian president said, "The smartest pathway to tackling drugs is decriminalizing consumption and ensuring that governments regulate certain drugs, including for medical and recreational purposes." (READ: Best practices: How other countries dealt with drug problems)
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, reacting to Gaviria, said the government has "broadened its efforts" in taking the problem as a public health issue. He explained that the "second phase" of the anti-narcotics campaign is focused on "treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependents." – Rappler.com