Singapore expresses support on “tough” Philippine illegal drugs stand
Singapore has expressed support on the Philippine "tough" method in addressing illegal drugs, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said on Friday.
In an interview with reporters in Singapore where he accompanied President Rodrigo Duterte in a state visit, Yasay said the "general consensus" during Duterte's separate meetings with Singaporean President Tony Tan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was both agreed on the Philippines’ campaign against the drug menace.
"And the general consensus was both agreed that the methods that we have adopted, being tough in the fight against illegal drugs, and that this toughness and the measures that we’ll be taken must be taken in the context of the urgent priorities and needs on the ground, as is relevant to our own situation," Yasay said.
"So this was something that both Singapore, and even Cambodia and the Philippines had agreed upon. And the methods that which we will be using in this fight against illegal drugs for as long as we remain committed to the rule of law and to ensure that the due process, rights, of everyone are respected will have the fullest cooperation."
Yasay said both countries are aware at how the lords and operators of illegal trade are ruthless and they will not hesitate to eliminate and neutralize anybody including law enforcers, including agents of the state, who will come in their way, that would prevent them from pursuing this illicit trade.
"So there was a consensus that this is the kind of method that you should adopt," Yasay added.
Because of this toughness, he noted Duterte told his counterpart that the government's war on illegal drugs "somehow immediately resulted in a positive impact."
More than 780,000 drug users and pushers have "surrendered" to the authorities under "Tokhang" operation. Over 5,000 drug suspects have been killed. But critics have urged the Duterte administration to follow the due process and the rule of law on its campaign against illegal drugs.
"The syndicates operating in illicit drugs have, I think, to a great extent been minimized," Yasay said, echoing Duterte's earlier statement the syndicates have shifted to other forms of criminal activities, such as kidnapping.
He also said this was why the Philippines is considering restoring the death penalty.
With this, Yasay urged the international community to look at illegal drugs, which is a pressing problem, as "a world problem."
"And to make sure that instead of criticizing the method, simply on the basis of propaganda, on the basis of unverified reports, that they should extend the full support in our efforts in trying to eradicate this world problem," he said.
In Duterte's meeting with the Singaporean leader, Yasay said they agreed to further cooperate in fighting terrorism and other criminal activities.
"The president had mentioned that in one occasion, our intelligence information showed that there was a Singaporean for instance that was actively involved in terroristic and other criminal activities," he said.
"And we did not hesitate upon the request by the Prime Minister to give them the name of the persons concerned. This will trigger of a lot of areas of cooperation and information sharing in the future."
Duterte earlier said a terrorist group led by a Singaporean has been in Sulu province, the stronghold of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group.
Duterte also embarked on a state visit to Cambodia before proceeding to Singapore, was set to arrive in Davao City late Friday night. Celerina Monte/DMS