By Roy Mabasa
A visiting United States official on Wednesday said his government is hopeful that the Philippines will continue to conduct its “war on drugs” in accordance with the rule of law and full respect to human rights.
State Department Assistant Secretary for East Asia and the Pacific W. Patrick Murphy was also quick to point out that they are encouraged to hear from Philippine officials that there are investigations concerning accusations of individuals, including officials, operating outside the rule of law.
“That’s very good to hear, we are encouraged to hear those efforts,” he said.
Murphy said they have conveyed their message to the Philippines as “allies and friends” amid allegations of extra-judicial killings related to the implementation of the war on drugs, one of the centerpiece programs of the Duterte administration.
“As allies and friends, we speak frankly, we speak honestly. Occasionally, each country has concerns with each other and the effort to counter narcotics here, we very much hope and we message this hope that the Philippines will continue to conduct this campaign in accordance with the rule of law and full respect to human rights,” Murphy told reporters in a roundtable interview arranged by the US embassy in Manila.
Murphy explained the United States “sympathize and understand” the challenge being faced by the Philippines concerning the illegal drugs issue, as they are also experiencing an “epic” opioid problem back home.
“This is a shared problem between our countries. The Philippines has a very significant challenge, the US does as well. We are experiencing an opioid crisis that is quite epic that is and is having a serious impact in the community level all across the US,” he said.
Murphy said they want to be “good partners” with the Philippines on the illegal drugs problem and are currently providing assistance on rehabilitation work and the efforts to disrupt international groups from bringing narcotics to the Philippines.
“So we very much sympathize and understand the Philippines has a challenge that is at national and international level and the community and we want to be good partners,” he said.