UN special rapporteur, policy experts criticize Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’

UNTV News   •   May 6, 2017   •   3033

MANILA — Speaking before a drug policy forum, United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard said the general assembly of nations last year recognized that the so-called “war on drugs” does not work.

Instead, such policies only add and escalate problems such as extra judicial killings and the breakdown of the rule of law.

Dr. Callamard said, “Badly thought out, ill-conceived drug policies foster a regime of impunity, infecting the whole justice sector and reaching into societies, invigorating the rule of violence rather than the rule of law, eroding public trust in public institutions, breeding fear and leading people to despair. These have been well-documented throughout the world.”

Callamard added that for 8 months, she has been watching the situation in the Philippines.

She heard debates between politicians, explanations of government officials and even watched footage of police and military men.

She is convinced that there are better options than the war on drugs.

“There are other ways, better ways, evidence-based scientific ways of combating drug abuse and trafficking, ways that do not make matters worse,” Callamard said.

Experts on drug policy also criticized Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.

They say it is a war against certain people that is portrayed as something else.

“There’s no such thing as a war on drugs… all you need to do is to look at whose being arrested, who’s being killed. The poor people on your society,” Columbia University Professor Dr. Carl Hart said.

International Drug Policy Project Executive Director Dr. John Collins said, “The Philippines is seen as a transshipment point… that have not been necessarily or overtly targeted in the current war on drugs.”

A group of human rights lawyers in the country is disturbed with how the government’s drug policy is going.

Free Legal Assistance Chairman Dean Jose Manuel Diokno said, “Everyday that people are encouraged to take the law into their own hands, live are lost but even bitter than that, our legal system losses all its meaning.”

Meanwhile, Callamard reacted on Malacañang’s statement regarding her unadvised arrival to the country.

“They are entitled to monitor me absolutely. I am here under the invitation of the university and of the task force, and I will participate to the discussion in that role and that’s the only contribution and work that I will be doing in the next two days,” Dr. Callamard reacted. — Roderick Mendoza, UNTV News & Rescue

WATCH: Malacañang disappointed with UN Special Rapporteur’s visit

Malacañang allays public fear of possible Facebook ban

Marje Pelayo   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has allayed public fear of a possible ban on social media giant Facebook following President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks on Tuesday night (September 29) expressing his disappointment over the platform’s policy.

“You cannot lay down a policy for my government. I allow you to operate here. You cannot bar or prevent me from espousing the objectives of the government,” Duterte said. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President wants to have a talk with Facebook to clarify issues regarding its censorship policy against pages that support the government.

“Number 1 po kasi tayo sa buong mundo sa Pilipinas so kung wala tayo, malaking kawalan yan sa Facebook [The Philippines is the number 1 user in the world. It’s a big loss to Facebook],” Roque said.

“Pero at the same time, dahil nga number 1 tayo, marami ring Pilipino ang gumagamit ng Facebook. Maapektuhan din. So sinabi naman ng president, pag-usapan iyan [But at the same time since we are number 1, many Filipinos are using Facebook. It will affect us. So the President wants a discussion about it],” he added.

Among the accounts that have been taken down is the advocacy group Hands Off Our Children, a page which aims to protect minors from recruitment by extremists who entice youths to become combatants and fight the government.

Meanwhile, Malacañang has again questioned Facebook’s choice of fact-checkers— online news platforms Rappler and Vera Files— who are critical of the present administration.

Roque said the government is now contemplating on commissioning fact-checkers of social media platforms in the country similar to what other countries are doing.

“Pag-aaralan po natin kung dapat gawin natin iyan dahil di po tayo makakapayag na ang fact-checkers ay tanging mga laban lamang sa gobyerno [We will take that into consideration because that has to be done. We cannot allow that fact-checkers are only those who are all against the government],” Roque concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Lacson, Sotto to Duterte: Don’t resign, just apply anti-graft laws to both friends, foes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Phillippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said that President Rodrigo Duterte should just implement the anti-graft laws to all violators instead of resigning if he wants to end corruption in the government.

READ: Duterte admits offering to resign over endless corruption in government

“Instead of resigning, the President only needs to be consistent in applying the anti-graft and corruption laws to both friends and foes,” Lacson said in a statement.

Lacson issued the statement after Duterte said he has offered to step down from office out of frustration over the rampant corruption in the country.

“Ewan ko kung sabihin ko ito sa inyo. I offered to resign as president. Pinatawag ko yung lahat, sabi ko, ‘Kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government […] talagang wala na katapusan itong korupsyon. Mahirap talaga pigilin,” Duterte said during his public address late Monday night.

The president’s remarks follows on the heels of fresh allegations of irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Duterte earlier promised to fire officials over just “a whiff” of corruption.

“Strong words and warnings may work, but only when backed by political will and followed by concrete actions. There is no better way,” Lacson said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said that it is the corrupt officials who should be resigning and not Duterte.

“Dapat ‘yung mga corrupt sa gobyerno makaisip noon, hindi siya. He was elected by the country, he cannot turn his back on the specified task by the Filipinos! I don’t think he means it,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.

As for Duterte’s offer to appear before a Congressional hearing to tackle corruption, Lacson said it may not be necessary.

“In fact, the Senate is already proposing in a bill to give him Bayanihan-like powers to address red tape in government,” he said.

Lacson was referring to Senate Bill 1844 which seeks to authorize the president to expedite the issuance of national and local permits and licenses in times of national emergency to address corruption and red tape in the government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Duterte admits offering to resign over endless corruption in government

Marje Pelayo   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has mentioned more than once in the past, wanting to step down from his post due to massive corruption in government.

He repeated himself on Monday evening (September 28) during his late night public address.

“I offered to resign as president. Ipinatawag ko ang lahat. Sabi ko, ‘Kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government, talagang wala na katapusan itong korupsyon. Mahirap talaga pigilin (I called everyone and said, “I am getting tired of it. In my years of government service, corruption is endless. It’s very difficult to eradicate),” the President said.

Specifically, the President expressed deep dismay over corruption and irregularities in the management of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

He said he is keen on proposing to Congress to dissolve the state insurance agency as he admits privatizing it cannot be an option. 

PhilHealth, I am going to propose to Congress to abolish [it]. Kung i-privatize mo naman, walang pera (If it will be privatized, there is no money), he said.

PhilHealth is facing a big revamp or reorganization among its officials and employees following a series of hearings and investigations on the anomalies within the agency.

Meanwhile, the President defended the government’s move to sell several state properties. He cited the need to raise funds to support the health sector’s COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and response plan.

“That is why we are selling properties. That’s the reason why we are selling real estate properties in Japan — because we have to raise money,” he said.

Wala nang pambayad diyan sa PhilHealth na iyan. Kaya walang ibang remedy diyan (There is no more money to pay for PhilHealth. There are no other remedies). It must be a surgical move,” he said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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