MANILA, Philippines - That idiot.
This was President Duterte’s reaction to the unsolicited advice given by former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria on fighting the drug menace.
In remarks before officials and personnel of the Bureau of Customs yesterday, Duterte said shabu is more potent than cocaine, which is the most prevalent drug in Colombia.
“That is why to tell you frankly, they say Colombia has been lecturing me, that idiot. They have cocaine there. Cocaine… is more or less (like) marijuana, it’s a bit OK, you can still communicate,” Duterte said.
“But with shabu – it’s mixed with battery water – it would give you an indication of what is going to happen inside your brain,” he said, apparently trying to point out drug users in the Philippines were tougher to deal with.
Duterte shrugged off Gaviria’s observation that he was repeating the mistakes of the former Colombian leader.
The Chief Executive had badmouthed high profile critics of his war on drugs – including former US president Barack Obama and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon among others.
“We have created five-million drug addicts, you are slaves better off than the slaves in the markets of Africa, slave markets of Middle East,” Duterte said.
His spokesman Ernesto Abella, for his part, outlined the programs initiated by the administration to address the drug problem and lamented what he called the international media’s fixation on issues of summary executions.
Duterte reiterated his vow to deal severely with the drug problem, saying it is his obligation to save the youth and the next generation.
“The drug industry has created or reduced some Filipinos to slavery. That is what pains me. Because once you are afflicted or contaminated with drugs, shabu is a very virulent chemical. One year use, you lose your sanity,” he said.
“With the four million, almost confirmed, how many of them will go crazy? I really do not know. There are now millions addicted to a chemical, at the expense of our nation, and fatten the pockets of the drug lords,” Duterte said.
Duterte said there is a need to set aside the human rights concerns spawned by reports on extrajudicial killings.
“These extrajudicial killings and issues, just put it aside. For those who really can in the performance of duty, exclude the others… I take full legal responsibility,” he said.
“If there is somebody who will go to prison, it is not the policemen, it is not the military, it is not Customs or the PDEA. I will answer for everything that I ordered and I am following the law,” Duterte added.
The President also debunked anew the report of Amnesty International on the so-called “pay-per-kill.”
“For those EJKs, I will give you an insight… the police said they are awarded P5,000 to P10,000, why, it’s your duty to kill, period. We are trying to control trafficking,” he said, referring to extrajudicial killings.
Meanwhile, Abella said the Palace respects the opinion of Gaviria and acknowledges that the drug problem is now a “health pandemic” aside from being a national security problem.
He said Duterte understands Gaviria’s concern, citing the Philippine leader’s treating the problem also as a public health issue, as proven by the construction of the 2,500-patient capacity Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.
Another drug rehabilitation center, the Residential Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Agusan del Sur – the first to open in a military camp in Mindanao – began operating last year.
In addition, PhilHealth, the government’s national health insurance program, now covers a two-week drug rehabilitation program at P10,000 per member.
“It is unfortunate that international attention on the drug war in the Philippines centers on drug-related killings rather than the breakthroughs of the campaign,” Abella said.
“However, we appreciate the ex-Colombian president’s concerns and we encourage our people to see our situation in the light of comprehensive nation-building,” he added.