BOGOTA – The Colombian government rejected the “unfortunate” remarks made by the president of the Philippines, who called a former Colombian president an “idiot” for advising him to abandon his controversial and heavy-handed campaign against drugs.
The foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday that it sent a note to the Philippine foreign ministry highlighting the importance of respect and language in interactions between countries and between their citizens.
Cesar Gaviria “has been lecturing about my (war on drugs)... that idiot,” Rodrigo Duterte had said earlier on Wednesday in a speech in Manila during the commemoration of the 115th founding anniversary of the Philippines Bureau of Customs.
Duterte made these remarks in reference to an article written by Gaviria, who headed the Colombian government between 1990 and 1994, in the New York Times newspaper.
In the opinion piece, the former president urged Duterte not to repeat the mistakes made by his country, arguing that a tough stance does not yield results and comes at a huge cost.
The Colombian foreign ministry added that Gaviria’s remarks were made in a constructive spirit so that countries facing the “scourge” of drugs could learn from the situation faced by Colombia, and make progress in the eradication of drugs, both their consumption and trafficking.
The ministry statement added that Gaviria is part of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and is renowned worldwide in this field.
During his speech, Duterte also stressed the difference between cocaine, the drug supplied by Colombian cartels, and methamphetamine or “shabu,” a potent hallucinogen very popular among impoverished communities in the Philippines.
More than 7,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the anti-drugs drive in the Philippines, of which at least 2,500 were suspects killed in police operations.