Palace denies ‘war on poor,’ hits Human Rights Watch
“The war on drugs is not targeted at any particular segment of society.”
That was Malacañang’s response to Human Rights Watch (HRW) Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine who claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statement shows “his murderous ‘war on drugs’ is in fact a war on the poor.”
Kine, who has been closely monitoring extrajudicial killings linked to the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, posted the statement on social media after Duterte said in a speech, “I’m sorry. You say you’re poor; that’s not an answer. I have a problem: 4 million addicts.”
“President Duterte has finally acknowledged what police ‘kill list’ statistics have long made obvious: That his murderous ‘war on drugs’ is in fact a war on the poor given that the vast majority of its more than 7,000 victims were urban slum dwellers – some of the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalized citizens of the Philippines,” Kine said.
“Duterte’s admission ends the perverse fiction that he and his government have sought to perpetuate over the past nine months that the victims of the drug war — many whose bodies are found on street corners wrapped in packing tape, riddled with bullets or perforated with stab wounds — have been ‘drug lords,’” he said.
In response to his statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella pointed out that “the most prevalent drug in the Philippines is shabu, dubbed as poor man’s cocaine.”
He said the supply, which comes from outside the country, “is in great demand from users and distributors both coming from poor families.”
“Poverty, however, does not justify the use and selling of shabu,” Abella said. “As the President said, he has to clean up the streets of drug users, pushers and dealers, regardless of their socioeconomic status in life.”
“Nothing can be farther from the truth than the HRW accusation that President Duterte has ‘contempt for lives,’” the Presidential Spokesperson said, claiming that “eight out of ten Filipinos living in Metro Manila now feel safer and more secure under his administration.”
“HRW and similar other organizations should therefore be more circumspect about meddling in the country’s domestic affairs. Their lack of appreciation of the context and local reality show a deep insensitivity to other cultures,” Abella said. CBB/rga
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