MANILA, Philippines – Presidential candidates who took part in the second debate organized by the Election Commission on Sunday proposed ways to fight illicit drugs while respecting human rights.
They were former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, labor leader Leody de Guzman and vice president Leni Robredo.
“It can be approached in two ways. First, reduce demand. And the other is to reduce the supply,” Abella said, speaking in a mix of English and Filipino.
“Reducing demand, if possible, should be first. For example, let us address the needs of out-of-school youth, give them more job and business opportunities, especially those living in vulnerable areas,” he added.
He also urged the Customs Bureau to track the entry of drug supplies.
Noting the importance of upholding rights, De Guzman said the government should focus on economic development.
“Let us focus more on this economic development in order to reduce by 80 or 70% the problems that we have in our country. To my knowledge, this is the source of most of the problems we face,” he said.
He also renewed his call to stop the red flag and abolish the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict.
Robredo, noting that rights are “inherent” and “inalienable,” raised the need to review the law on dangerous drugs.
“It should be based on best practices around the world,” she said.
As of February 2022, government data shows 6,235 people have been killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, which he launched in 2016.