Pubdate: Tue, 30 Aug 2016
Source: Philippine Star (Philippines)
Copyright: PhilSTAR Daily Inc. 2016
Author: Alexis Romero


Under fire for allegedly condoning extralegal killings, Malacanang 
yesterday told the international media to visit the Philippines so 
they can see for themselves the extent of the drug menace in the country.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said visiting 
the country would enable foreign journalists to understand the 
context of President Duterte's tough pronouncements on narcotics and crime.

"The international media, as I have repeated time and again, should 
come to the Philippines and experience the life of the barangay 
(village) people who have so much drug problems," Andanar told 
reporters on the sidelines of the Japan-ASEAN Media Forum at the EDSA 
Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City.

"It's not fair for just anybody to conclude about extrajudicial 
killings, that there's so much dead without even qualifying which one 
is dead because of authorized police operation, which ones were 
killed because of a gang war or regular murders," he said.

"It's also unfair for the government to receive such report without 
the international media coming to the Philippines and really 
experiencing the life of those affected by drugs," he said.

Asked if he thinks the foreign press' coverage of the anti-drug war 
was fair, Andanar said he is leaving it to the public to make such assessment.

"If I say that it's unfair, it's self-serving. Every Filipino who is 
on Facebook, who is on social media, who reads the papers, should 
themselves decide if the international media has been fair in writing 
stories about the drug-related problems in the country," he said.

Various foreign media outlets including BBC, CNN, The New York Times, 
Time magazine, Forbes and Washington Post have reported about the 
recent spate of killings in the country attributed to Duterte's 
crackdown on drugs.

Even some participants of the Japan-ASEAN Media Forum believe that 
the reports about the killings could put the Philippines in a bad light.

Andanar, however, maintained that the President was just fulfilling a 
campaign promise that allowed him to achieve an overwhelming victory 
in the 2016 polls.

"It is the duty of the President to protect the general welfare of 
the people. He was elected with that platform. He already warned the 
electorate that 'if you vote for me, there will be bloodshed. If you 
don't want bloodshed, don't vote for me.' But he was voted," he said.

"It is important for international journalists to understand the 
context of the President. If you live in a slum of Manila where about 
20 percent of barangays are drug-infested, when you live in society 
where you can be high for less than a quarter of a dollar, the 
country is in trouble," he added.

Duterte has repeatedly denied condoning extrajudicial killings but 
has been reminding law enforcers to shoot criminals if their lives 
are threatened. He has also assured policemen and soldiers that they 
would be given assistance if they face charges in connection with the 
anti-drug campaign.

When asked whether Duterte would mellow down on his tough talk, 
Andanar replied: "You cannot change the President."

"This drug menace is pandemic already. Extraordinary situations call 
for extraordinary measures. When the system of government is not 
working for the good of the majority, you go to the courts. The case 
that should be solved in one year gets solved in ten years. How do 
you solve this when the policies of the state no longer work? What do 
you do?" he asked.

Andanar stressed that it is more important to protect the lives of 
innocent civilians and victims of illegal drugs than drug lords.

"Investigate the lives, the human rights of those who have been 
victimized by crimes due to illegal drugs. There are so many of them. 
Go back to them. Let's not be one-sided," he added.

Authorities said there are about 3.7 million drug dependents in the 
country. About 2,000 suspected drug personalities have been killed, 
about 700 of them in police operations while about 700,000 drug users 
have surrendered.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom