Callamard: PH narco bureau's new anti-drug strategy 'gave me hope'

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 06 2017 05:49 PM | Updated as of May 07 2017 01:30 AM

MANILA - United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard on Saturday said the proposed new "evidence-based" and "culturally appropriate" anti-drug strategy of the Dangerous Drugs Board "gave her hope" that the Philippines can "move forward in a way that will put an end to the killings."

"The strategy presentation yesterday from the chair of the narcotics bureau did give me hope because it's a balanced strategy that he offered," Callamard told reporters on the sidelines of a policy forum at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

DDB Chair Benjamin Reyes had on Friday said the anti-narcotics agency has crafted a revised strategy that will "look at the establishment and institutionalization of systems rather than focusing on the number of (anti-drug) activities."

This amid consistent criticism of the Duterte administration's war on drugs centered on police operations, which has claimed thousands of lives. 

Under the DDB's new proposal, existing drug policies will be reviewed to streamline functions of government agencies in the war on drugs. A more efficient anti-narcotics system will be cascaded to the local level, where officials are expected to strengthen initiatives that will address the supply and demand of drugs.

The strategy will be "inter-sectoral and participatory, evidence-based and culturally appropriate," Reyes' presentation showed.

"The plan he wants to discuss... is based on lessons from around the world which is to have an integrated and holistic approach which places a lot of emphasis on health, justice sector, and preventive measures," said Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

"I think that kind of strategy can carry forward a different policy," added the human rights expert, who visited Manila to attend the drug policy forum.

Callamard said she will help the agency "strengthen the five-year plan" that is set to be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte next week.

"I will certainly invite the government to listen carefully to what the narcotics bureau had to say along with what society has to say so that we can move forward in a way that will put an end to the killings," Callamard said.