His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
J.P. Laurel Street
San Miguel, Manila
Via the Embassy of the Philippines
Re: An Entreaty to End the Killing, to End the Poverty and Exclusion
Dear President Duterte/Mr. President
I urgently request a halt be called on the killing of people who use drugs in the Philippines. I implore Your Excellency President Duterte to reconsider the current approach of executing people who use drugs in favour of internationally accepted evidence-based alternatives.
People who use drugs are not inherently evil or criminal. They are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and grandparents. They care for their families and communities. People who use drugs are human beings, just as valuable and important in contributions to society as all other citizens. The death and suffering of these people is avoidable, and will cause untold sorrow and pain to communities of people who use drugs, and their families and to the community as a whole.
I agree with you that it is very important to alleviate poverty and marginalisation, and to promote inclusive communities and families. As you know, drug use in the Philippines is particularly visible among the poor. Do those who are already disadvantaged deserve the further hardship of fear, persecution, and even death? You yourself have pledged to combat poverty in the Philippines. Increasing difficulty for the most marginalised and economically disenfranchised citizens, and their families and communities, is surely not what you desire.
Some of your words, suggesting people kill drug users in the streets, are being taken literally. The recent spate of killings is of great concern. In other countries where similarly heavy-handed approaches have been employed, including in the Asian region, only suffering and pain have resulted. Different approaches should be considered in order to realize a peaceful, secure, and stable Philippines that benefits all Filipinos.
Instead of punishment and violence, I urge you to consider alternative systems of social support and treatment people who use drugs. This approach sits within the public health framework of harm reduction, which seeks to use science and evidence to minimise the harms associated with drug use. This sits well also within your philosophy of reducing harm to society through reducing poverty and injustice. Your reputation as a guardian of the poor precedes you Mr President, yet this approach of killing drug users will serve only to further marginalise and punish the poor.
I entreat you to take a strong and forward-looking view on drugs that promotes a reduction of harm, an end to inequality, solidarity with the poor and disenfranchised, and an end to violence and discrimination. I urgently request that you call a halt to the extrajudicial killing of people, and entreat you instead to set science-based standards for a healthy, productive, and prosperous Philippines.
Yours sincerely,File attachment: Draft embassy letter Aug 2016.docx