Press Release
February 7, 2017

Cayetano: 'war on drugs' not war against the poor

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said the Duterte administration's war on drugs is not a war against the poor, but a war to defend the poor from the drug menace that plagues their communities.

In a speech before the Filipino community in New York City on Monday (Philippine time), Cayetano decried the wrongful branding of the anti-drug campaign as a "war against the poor."

On the contrary, the senator said Duterte's policy against drugs and criminality actually aims to alleviate poverty by saving poor Filipino families from the drug menace that ruins so many lives.

Cayetano stressed that the increase in police operations in the urban poor areas seeks to deter drug pushers operating in such areas.

"The war on drugs is a program to get people out of poverty. Because no family with a drug addict as a brother, son, or father can get out of poverty. If we have three million addicts, that means we have three million families with a problem," he said.

"The poor have become common victims of the drug pushers. When they become hooked on drugs, they engage in other crimes to sustain their vices. If the government will not intensify its drug operations, the poor will continue to be exploited by the drug pushers. The poor cannot defend themselves, they need us most," he added. Cayetano then called on international organizations to help the Duterte government succeed in its campaign against illegal drugs, instead of wasting their energy criticizing its strong policies.

In front of the enthusiastic Filipino crowd in New York, he suggested that international funders should consider equipping the police with the necessary bullet-proof vests and body cameras to make the drug buy-bust operations more transparent and to avoid cases of human rights of violations.

"Instead of criticizing us and trying to stop international funding, why don't you give us bullet-proof vests for our police? And why don't you give us cameras like they use in the SEAL teams, so you could see the drug bust and you could see why they fire at these people?"

Cayetano also invited human rights groups to visit the country to "see for themselves" how the anti-drug campaign is gradually making Filipinos much safer in their own communities.

"It's not to criticize but to show you that in a multicultural world and with different socioeconomic backgrounds and different drugs, you can't judge us simply from your point of view. Come over and see what's happening," he said.

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