by Roy C. Mabasa
The European Union (EU) has now decided to offer its assistance to the Philippine government’s anti-drug campaign, particularly through the rehabilitation of drug addicts, after initially criticizing the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs.
EU Ambassador to Manila Franz Jessen said the EU is currently studying the possibility of shifting its funding within the Philippine health sector toward the rehabilitation of drug dependents.
“We are trying to see if we should change the funding and focus more on the drug issue which is a key project for the government,” Ambassador Jessen revealed during an interview in the sidelines of the launching of the book, “Ties That Bind: Celebrating 25 years of EU in the Philippines,” held recently in Makati City. “It’s a question of a change in funds within the health sector toward the drug issue.”
Jessen said the EU is now working with the Department of Health to see how it can support the best practices currently being implemented by the government to make sure that drug dependents can get the treatment they deserve.
“We have ongoing discussions with the administration with regards to creating a system for half-way houses to make sure that former addicts are integrated into the society without returning to their drug habit,” he said
The EU had earlier condemned the “current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings” following the launch of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs. The criticism drew the ire of President Duterte, who reacted with profanity-filled tirade last year.
In a resolution issued October last year, the EU parliament said it was concerned about the “extraordinarily high numbers killed during police operations … in the context of an intensified anti-crime and anti-drug campaign.”
Duterte must “put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings… (and) launch an immediate investigation into (them),” the EU resolution stated.
With a new tack, the EU is also working the best way it can with the Philippine government on the country’s judicial system.
Jessen said he has been traveling to key cities to promote community policing and to share the European experience in this area.
“That is not to fight crime but to make sure that crime does not happen in the first instance,” he explained.
Ambassador Jessen said another key issue is reducing the trial time by having the lower courts decide on the cases.
“We are doing quite some work with the Quezon City courts to see if we can speed up the decision making,” he pointed out.