‘Never’ for drug war: Samira Gutoc tells critics after saying it’s a success ‘in some way’

October 5, 2021 - 5:40 PM
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Samira Gutoc with supporters
Samira Gutoc with supporters of presidential aspirant Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso in this photo shared on her official Facebook page on Oct. 4, 2021. (Photo from Facebook/Samira Gutoc)

Comparisons were made between the stance of senatorial aspirant Samira Gutoc on the Duterte administration’s “War on Drugs” campaign when she first ran in public office and her views two years later.

When asked about the current administration’s biggest achievement in an interview with “Headstart” on Tuesday, Gutoc answered “drug war.”

The senatorial aspirant was asked to expound on her answer and she said that “rememberable” is the more apt term.

“Rememberable because as a woman, widows have been the result of the drug war. And I don’t need to go to CHR (Commission on Human Rights) to see the thousands of documents of women affidavits that are filed, grabe po. It’s remarkable that we allow police… men to do this to so many thousands of people. I cannot… grabe po,” Gutoc said.

The Marawi civic leader was pressed to clarify her response and whether she thinks the drug war was a success or not.

Gutoc answered that the campaign was a “shortcut process” and that the “pillars of justice system” should be strengthened.

However, she added that the drug war “was a success” in a way that it ingrained “fear” in people but that “it’s not sustainable” as a whole.

“So you consider the drug war a success in some way?” Davila asked.

“In some way. Not sustainable in a way but yes, in a way. Lesser… I mean there’s fear on the ground, there’s fear,” Gutoc responded.

Karen Davila pointed out that the senatorial aspirant’s views were “confusing,” to which the latter admitted that “it’s hard” to answer.

“It’s hard. It’s hard, Ma’am Karen, to say because when… ‘Yes, success ‘yan eh. Gusto mo ba, Ms. Gutoc, na ma-rape ‘yung kapatid ng isang drug addict?’ I understand that po, I’m coming from that community po eh, on the streets of the communities. But it’s just a shortcut of a process,” Gutoc said.

“And… not sure that there’s a Duterte approach after all this drug war. So it’s not the legal means, it was a shortcut po. I will say that, it’s a shortcut,” she added.

The former Otso Diretso bet’s answers were questioned by some of her supporters who recalled how feisty she was when she discussed the drug war during the 2019 midterm elections.

“Samira who previously opposed the ‘Drug War’ now calls it an ‘achievement’ and a ‘success… in a way,” lawyer Emil Marañon III said.

“Interesting shift in tone after her move to her new party,” he added.

Gutoc previously ran for senator under opposition coalition Otso Diretso which fielded candidates from the Liberal, Magdalo and Aksyon Demokratiko parties.

She moved to Aksyon Demokratiko before filing for her Certificate of Candidacy to run as a senator in the 2022 elections.

The party’s standard bearer is presidential aspirant Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso.

Gutoc in her previous senatorial bid was vocal in expressing her dissent against Duterte’s “War on Drugs” campaign.

In March 2019, she asked the president to rethink his vow of a “bloodier” drug war.

Gutoc also challenged former Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa, who was also vying for a Senate seat at that time, about the issue.

“Sir Bato, may asawa ka, may anak ka. Kung mamamatay anak mo sa collateral damage, ano kaya ang sentimyento mo?” she asked him during a debate senatorial faceoff aired on GMA Network before.

Dela Rosa is the architect of Duterte’s “War on Drugs” campaign, which has now earned the attention of the International Criminal Court due to the allegedly committed crimes against humanity.

“How will you convince survivor families that you will stand up for the human rights of those who died during your Tokhang operations?” Gutoc previously asked him.

Duterte has been elected with a campaign promise to get rid of the country’s problems against drugs, crime and corruption.

During the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly last month, he said that those who are found to have “acted beyond bounds” in his anti-narcotics campaign would be held accountable under national laws.

Duterte and his police chiefs said that the killings in the campaign were done in self-defense while his government insists ICC supposedly has no right to meddle in the country’s affairs.

ALSO READ: THE WAR ON DRUGS: In-depth reports and analyses on the government’s bloody anti-narcotics campaign

Not ‘pro-drug war’ 

Gutoc on Tuesday afternoon addressed her supporters and said that she was “never” in favor of the drug war following her ANC interview.

“Pasensya na po kayo sa interview kanina, ‘wag po natin sana ma misconstrue. Thank you for bringing this to my attention and holding me accountable. Sama-sama tayong susulong,” she tweeted.

Humihingi po ako ng pasensya sa aking poor choice of words. I could have called it out flatly as a failure, and desecration of human lives,” Gutoc added. 

When a Twitter account told Gutoc to get another interview with Davila, she responded that she would “take note” of it.