Press Release
December 20, 2016

Hontiveros: Filipinos want a humane campaign vs. illegal drugs

"The people prefer a humane and rules-based campaign against illegal drugs."

This is how Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros interpreted the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey showing that 8 out of 10 Filipinos expressed worry about the unresolved cases of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the country, while seventy-one percent of Filipinos said that it is "very important" that drug suspects be kept alive when caught.

"The writing on the wall is clear. The government cannot spin the result of this survey any other way. While there is apparent strong public support to the government's campaign against illegal drugs, the people want it to be based on human rights and rule of law," Hontiveros said.

"No more EJK deniers"

Hontiveros also said that the survey is a vindication of the existence of thousands of unresolved EJKs.

"I hope that this is the last time we will debate the existence of EJKs. No more EJK deniers. Majority of our people see it as a real problem that must be immediately addressed by the government," Hontiveros said.

Current war on drugs: Cruel, medieval

The Senator described the government's war on drugs as "cruel and medieval." She reiterated her challenge to the Duterte government to provide a health and human rights approach to the country's drug problem.

Hontiveros said that building a mega-drug rehabilitation center does not exactly match the heath needs of the drug users, arguing that what the majority of the drug users need are out-patient medical assitance.

"The Department of Health already said that what the majority of the drug users need are out-patient healthcare interventions. As such, what is needed are out-patient rehabilitation programs, community drop-in centers, and harm reduction capacity-building sessions for local governments, health agencies and non-government organizations," Hontiveros said.

"These are based on the principles of 'harm reduction' to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of the use of illegal drugs," Hontiveros added.

It is time for the government to acknowledge that the drug problem is a public health issue, and a strictly punitive and violent war on drugs has failed in many parts of the world," Hontiveros concluded.

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