Walden Bello tells Duterte: Addressing poverty, not killings, the way to solve drug problem
Published August 12, 2016 5:47pm
By ROSE-AN JESSICA DIOQUINO, GMA News
Former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said killings will not solve the country’s drug problem.
Bello, who spoke Friday as part of a coalition called In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND), said the “violent” drive against illegal drugs will be ineffective.
Saying it is “a war against the poor,” he pointed out that solving the drug problem through killings “only addresses the symptoms rather than the root cause.”
“The Duterte administration must be commended for facing up squarely [with] the drug problem. But there are no shortcuts in the campaign against drugs,” he said.
As of early Friday, a total of 550 drug suspects have been killed during police anti-illegal drugs operations since July 1.
Bello, a known sociology professor and activist, reiterated that the solution to the problem is addressing poverty, as drug use is “prevalent among the poor and underprivileged.”
“The most likely reason is to escape from the harsh realities of poverty,” Bello said. “Poverty not only means material hardship, but hopelessness, powerlessness, a life without dignity for many.”
He added: “Thus, addressing poverty, affording people the opportunity for social mobility, and enabling them to live a life with dignity, should be the key element of the anti-drug campaign.”
According to Bello, this will “involve massive social reforms,” as well as social investment and wealth distribution.
“These are urgent measures which should have been undertaken decades ago, but previous administrations have not dared to do [so] for fear of offending the rich and the powerful,” he said.
‘Take him seriously’
During the launch of the iDEFEND coalition, Bello was asked to comment on Duterte’s heated reply to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who wrote him about the judges tagged among government officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
Responding to Sereno, the President raised the possibility of declaring martial law if the judiciary gets in the way of his anti-drug drive.
He has since apologized for his statement.
About this, Bello said, “We need to see about that in the future,” but pointed out that Duterte’s words “carry a lot of weight.”
However, the former Akbayan representative reiterated that the President’s pronouncements on killing drug personalities should be taken seriously.
“[W]hen it comes to extrajudicial killings, ‘yung words niya about drug use and the way to deal with it, mahirap ho yatang sabihin, as his apology (to Sereno) said, na hindi siya seryoso. Kasi paulit-ulit niyang sinasabi ito, sa iba’t ibang konteksto,” he said.
He added: “Paminsan-minsan, sasabihin niya, hyperbole lang daw. Pero alam naman ho natin na ang mga nagha-hyperbole, meron ring element of truth and desire and intend doon ho sa sasabihin nila. ”
“Kaya ho ang huling sasabihin ko ho rito is that, over 900 na ang patay in less than two months all over the country. Sino ho ba ang maniniwala na hindi policy ito, na hindi galing sa top levels itong nangyayari? Kaya we have to take these statements seriously,” he went on. — RSJ, GMA News
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