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Former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria wrote in the New York Times that the Duterte administration is making the same mistakes he made in waging war against illegal drugs, and this was bound to fail.
As expected, Duterte’s reaction to Gaviria’s statement was not unlike his response to other world leaders who criticized the way he handled the drug problem in the country and said, “That idiot.”
Gaviria was Colombia’s president from 1990 to 1994. It was during his term that notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar was killed. Without a doubt, he is quite aware of the drug issue.
Gaviria also wrote that tens of thousands of people were slaughtered in their anti-drug crusade. Many politicians, judges, police officers and journalists were assassinated. The funds earned from drugs were used to corrupt their executive, judicial and legislative branches of government.
Colombia used force in the early years of their drug war. Unfortunately, they learned that this only led to an escalation of violence and corruption as the drug cartels struck back.
Gaviria noted that they only began making a positive impact after designating drugs as a social problem that did not require military solution.
Director-General Ronald dela Rosa, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, said that he got so many ideas on how the Philippines could improve its war on drugs after his 2016 visit to Colombia, which lasted for one week.
Colombia has been fighting illegal drugs for at least three decades now. Firing Line is not saying that Gaviria’s words should be followed to the letter, but it should not be neglected as well.
His is the voice of wisdom and experience that we could all learn from, along with the ideas Dela Rosa picked up from his Colombian visit.
Although he stopped the police from conducting anti-drug operations, Duterte vowed to kill more drug suspects if needed to rid the country of illegal drugs.
Last December, the public condemned a local movie for showing a scene where a dog was actually slaughtered.
Yet, most of the people who were sensitive enough to react to the death of man’s best friend seem unmindful of the fact that more than 7,000 people have already perished since Duterte’s war on illegal drugs was launched last July.
Should we wait for tens of thousands more to die before realizing that killing criminals and addicts is not the right step to take in facing this problem? (Robert B. Roque, Jr.)