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Duterte calls Colombian ex-president 'idiot'

President Duterte called on Wednesday a former leader of Colombia an "idiot" for criticizing his vaunted anti-drug campaign. PPD/File

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte called a former president of Colombia an "idiot" after a New York Times opinion piece by the ex-leader criticizing the Philippine government's war on drugs.

"Sabi nila yung Colombia has been lecturing about my, that idiot," Duterte said in a speech for the 115th founding anniversary of the Bureau of Customs (BuCor).

Duterte also defended the approach that his administration took in addressing the country's illegal drugs problem.

He said he takes full responsibility for the actions of his men and called for the issue of extrajudicial killings to be set aside.

"And if there's somebody who should go tp prison, it is not the policemen, it is not the military, it is not the customs, the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency), ako, me. Ako, I will answer for everything that I ordered and I am obeyed following the law," Duterte said.

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In his opinion piece, former Colombian President César Gaviria said that Duterte is repeating his mistakes.

RELATED: Colombian ex-president: Duterte repeating my mistakes in drug war

"[T]he war against them cannot be won by armed forces and law enforcement agencies alone. Throwing more soldiers and police at the drug users is not just a waste of money but also can actually make the problem worse," Gaviria said.

He added that jailing nonviolent offenders and drug users could end up strengthening organized crime.

Gaviria who served as president between 1990 and 1994 said Colombia has poured billions of dollars into their drug war. It was during his term that notorious drug trafficker Pablo Escobar was taken down.

However, he noted that their relentless campaign to eradicate drugs and destroy cartels failed to eliminate drug production, trafficking and consumption in Colombia. He added that their efforts pushed drugs and crime into neighboring countries. 

"That is the message I would like to send to the world and, especially, to President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. Trust me, I learned the hard way," Gaviria said.

Duterte said the situation of the Philippines is different from that faced by Colombia. The South American country faced problems with cocaine and marijuana while the country is tackling problems with shabu which Duterte considers as "virulent."

He described the gravity of the problem the country is facing. He said that drug groups had created "slaves" out of the four to five million individuals the president believed were hooked on drugs.

RELATED: 4M drug users 'in the realm of possibility,' DDB insists

"The drug industry has created or reduced some Filipinos to slavery. Yan ang masakit sa akin because once you are afflicted or contaminated by drugs... you lose your sanity," the chief executive said.

RELATED: Duterte officials hold drug suspects, criminals not human

To further highlight the situation, the president said that it would be better to buy slaves from Africa or Middle East than have drug addicts. He said that these slaves could work unlike those who were addicted to illicit narcotics.

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