Duterte calls ex-Colombian president ‘idiot’ for comment on drug war
President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out on Wednesday at former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria and called him an “idiot” for criticizing his brutal war on drugs.
“Colombia has been lecturing me, that idiot,” Duterte said in a speech at the 115th anniversary of the Bureau of Customs, referring to Gaviria.
In an opinion piece published on the New York Times, Gaviria told Duterte that “the drug menace cannot be solved by the “heavy-handed” approach of killing drug addicts.”
He said he was hoping that Duterte would not commit the same mistakes that he did in dealing with Colombia’s drug problem.
In a statement, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Malacañang respects Gaviria’s opinion.
“We respect the opinion of former President Cesar Gaviria that Colombia’s experience of ‘war against drugs’ cannot be won by the armed forces and law enforcement agencies alone,” Abella said.
“The Philippine President rightly understood the same insight when he began to address not just crime and illegal drugs but also broadened government efforts into a public health issue,” he added.
The Palace official said “the second phase of the President’s anti-drug campaign focuses on the treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependents.”
“More than a national security problem, the proliferation of drugs in the country has been regarded as a health pandemic,” he said.
Abella cited the drug rehabilitation centers built in the country during Duterte’s first seven months in office, which include the Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DATRC) in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, and the Residential Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (RTRC) in Agusan del Sur.
He said the Philhealth, the government’s national health insurance program, now covers a two-week drug rehabilitation program reserved at P10,000 per member.
“It is unfortunate that international attention to the drug war in the Philippines centers on drug-related killings rather than the breakthroughs of the campaign. 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 said. CDG/JE
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