President Duterte and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena offer a toast to each other during the state banquet at Malacañang the other day.
Philippines drug war an example to the world – Sri Lanka
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs has an admirer in Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, who called the campaign “an example to the world.” 

During a state banquet hosted for him at Malacañang on Wednesday, Sirisena said Sri Lanka should follow Duterte’s crackdown on narcotics to address its drug problem. 

“Excellency, the war against crime and drugs carried out by you is an example to the whole world, and personally to me,” the Sri Lankan leader, who is in the country for a five-day state visit, said.  

“Drug menace is rampant in my country and I feel that we should follow your footsteps to control this hazard,” he added. 

Duterte’s drug war, which has left more than 5,000 drug suspects dead, has been criticized by human rights groups here and abroad for supposedly encouraging extrajudicial killings. 

He has denied this, saying law enforcers only use force against suspects who violently resist arrest.

The President has accused international groups of violating the Philippines’ sovereignty and chided human rights advocates for allegedly ignoring the plight of the victims of drug addicts. 

Last year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) said it would conduct a preliminary hearing on Duterte’s crackdown on drugs but officials insisted the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the matter.

The ICC acted on a communication by lawyer Jude Sabio, who accused Duterte of ordering the deaths of thousands of drug suspects. 

The President responded by withdrawing the Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC. 

Sirisena, who, like Duterte, was also accused of being a dictator by his critics, praised the Philippine leader for leading the Filipino nation “on a road to prosperity, sustaining economic growth, launching and building critical infrastructure.”

He likewise lauded Duterte for his effective people-centric foreign policy and job-generation efforts. 

Last November, Sirisena stirred controversy for dissolving the Sri Lankan Parliament, a move that his critics described as unconstitutional.

No vin d’honneur yet

Meanwhile, Malacañang has yet to schedule a vin d’honneur for President Duterte, almost three weeks into 2019.

The traditional vin d’honneur is usually held on New Year’s Day and during Independence Day when the President gathers his top Cabinet officials and members of the diplomatic corps.

In 2017, Duterte had his first vin d’honneur on Jan. 11.

He canceled the ceremony in June 2017 due to the pressing problem in Mindanao.

Officials said the President is on a full schedule in the first quarter of the year as a number of heads of states are set to visit the country after Sirisena. – With Edith Regalado

DRUG WAR MAITHRIPALA SIRISENA
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