Callamard says PH drug board presentation gave her 'hope'
MANILA, Philippines – Her visit to the Philippines may only be in an “academic,” and not investigative, capacity, but that did not stop United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on summary killings Agnes Callamard from learning a thing or two about existing policies in the country.
One of this, she said in a chance interview on May 6, Saturday, is the proposed "balanced strategy" of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) in the fight against illegal drugs which gave her "hope" that an alternative plan would be carried out in the Philippines later on.
“I just learned what I thought was the case, which is that there are alternatives to the current policy…and I have to say, the strategy presentation from the [Dangerous Drugs Board] did give me hope because it’s a balanced strategy that he offered,” Callamard said.
Callamard is in the Philippines on an “academic visit” to attend a two-day drug policy forum at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
During her keynote address at the forum on May 5, Callamard noted that punitive measures against illegal drugs only worsens the problems.
Also on Friday, DDB chairman Benjamin Reyes gave a briefing on “The Philippine Drug Situation.” The DDB is the body mandated to create the country’s anti-illegal drugs policies and strategies.
Referring to the DDB's planned strategy, Callamard said: “[The strategy] is not in place, it’s not implemented but I think the plan for the future is a plan that is really based on what the lessons are form around the world, which is that you need to have an integrated approach which places a lot of emphasis on health, the justice measures, [and] a lot of emphasis on preventive measures.”
Experts, including Callamard, have urged the Philippines to abandon its bloody war on drugs and instead turn to a more “holistic” approach to solving the drug problem. The conference also tackled public and economic policies surrounding illegal drugs, as well as the experiences of Mexico and Thailand in waging punitive campaigns against narcotics.
Callamard also downplayed criticism over her presence in the country and her statements, telling media she was “used to it.” (READ: Palace 'disappointed' with visit of UN Special Rapporteur)
“It’s a pity because the purpose of the forum is to open avenues of dialogue, it’s to provide expertise that you have heard throughout the last two days. That should be the real focus. Not me,” she added.
The government has extended an official invitation to Callamard but this came with conditions which the special rapporteur noted “did not comply with the rules and methods of work of Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.”
Still, she said she was looking forward to eventually making an official visit to the country. – Rappler.com