PHL slams Washington Post story on drug war

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Residents look at the body of a man who police said was killed in a spate of drug-related violence in Manila, Aug. 16, 2017. — REUTERS

By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter

THE PHILIPPINE Embassy in Washington on Monday slammed an article by the Washington Post on the Philippine government’s war on drugs, saying its portrayal of the country’s capital was a “hasty generalization.”

Meanwhile, senators on Tuesday offered solutions to address the continued proliferation of illegal drugs in the country following President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s recent statements that the remaining years of his term would be the “most dangerous” for those involved in the illegal drug trade.

“We take strong exception to the article entitled, ‘This is Manila’ that appeared on the front page of the Washington Post on 25 February 2019. It is disappointing how this article hides behind the guise of journalism to advance an agenda that seeks to discredit the Philippines in the eyes of the international community,” the Philippine Embassy said in a statement.

“Contrary to what its title hopes to provoke, the article paints a picture not of Manila, but of a hasty generalization that has no foundation in reality,” the statement added.

The article featured the killing of a Filipino drug addict, whose body was found floating in a river in Tondo, Manila.

The Philippine Embassy pointed out that the news article failed to mention that majority of Filipinos support the government’s war on drugs, citing recent surveys.

It cited the June 2018 survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) which showed that eight out of 10 or 78% of Filipinos were satisfied with the war on drugs. Another June 2018 survey, this time by Pulse Asia, showed that 77% of Metro Manila residents believe the war on drugs is the government’s “most important achievement.”

The embassy also cited the reduced criminality in the country as well as disciplinary actions on erring police personnel.

It maintained that the Philippines continues to uphold the rule of law and human rights in its policies.

“As a nation that cherishes freedom, democracy and justice, and as a responsible member of the international community, the Philippines upholds the rule of law and human rights in all its endeavors,” the embassy said.

“We will continue to engage in sincere, constructive, and evidence-based dialogue with our international partners in the pursuit of common goals and mutual interests.”

In a related development, senators weighed in on Mr. Duterte’s recent pronouncements of an intensified drug war.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, who once headed the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB), said Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADAC) across the country should be activated.

“Activating the BADAC would greatly help… DILG was saying they were activating some time ago but very few follow. In fact, the more important ones covering the islands are not activated,” he said in a mobile phone message to reporters.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said in a statement on Tuesday: “This harsher campaign should be focused on the drug lords — identify the heads of the drug cartels who bring in illegal drugs to our country, so that the full force of the law can be imposed upon them.”