Rule of law best way to fight drug problem – Trump adviser
MANILA, Philippines – "The United States always pushes for human rights," US national security adviser H.R. McMaster told Rappler executive editor Maria Ressa when she asked about President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial war on drugs.
Trump himself recently declared a national health emergency over the epidemic of drug use. McMaster said the US will use "effective law enforcement" to address the problem.
"The President just declared a national emergency involving opioid use by 68,000 people a year. That’s a huge number. The President is very concerned about the drug problem, but also the way that we will go after that here is to do it through more effective law enforcement as well as a broad range of other actions including education," said McMaster.
Duterte has expressed a liking for US President Donald Trump, whom he said supported his war on drugs. They have both been called "The Trump of the East" and "The Duterte of the West," respectively, because of their leadership styles.
Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, became Duterte's punching bag after his administration criticized human rights violations over the deaths of thousands of suspected drug users and pushers.
'Frank, open, but private conversations'
McMaster said the US will always push for adherence to human rights but he said Trump's style is to discuss it in "frank, open, but private" conversations.
"What President Trump prefers to do is to have a sincere conversation about these issues. As we know here in the United States, drugs is a terrible scourge. But what we also have to understand is that the best way to deal with this kind of a severe problem is through preserving the rule of law. These are conversations that leaders can have in a frank, open, and private manner, I think. It will be helpful to both countries to have that conversation," said McMaster.
"But this is another area that we can work on together. How to combat this very severe problem," McMaster said.
McMaster said New Jersery Governor Chris Christie was tasked to come up with a national strategy to address the problem.