Washington, D.C.
September 27, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – “Let’s act in tandem,” was the main message that Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter S. Cayetano delivered to the members of the Filipino community at a Talakayan or town hall meeting on 27 September 2017 at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The Secretary candidly addressed questions on the Philippine Government’s fight against illicit drugs, emphasizing the existential threat posed by the drug problem and acknowledging the concerns raised by some quarters regarding the Government’s campaign.

“There is no problem talking about the drug war. There’s absolutely every reason to talk about human rights,” Secretary Cayetano said to underline the importance of continuing frank and constructive conversations about the anti-drugs campaign.

“I’m not saying let’s not be partisan. In fact, the more partisan we are, the more democratic we are and the more Filipino we are,” Secretary Cayetano further stated even as he extolled the Filipino values of bayanihan and pakikipagkapwa-tao. He cited the results of the Pew Research Center’s Spring 2017 Global Attitudes Survey that show that 78% of Filipinos approve of way President Rodrigo R. Duterte handles illegal drugs, and that 62% believes that the Government is making headway in the anti-drugs campaign.

Secretary Dionisio R. Santiago, the Chairperson of the Philippine Dangerous Drugs Board, also briefed the audience about the progress of the campaign against illegal drugs and expounded on the preventive and educational programs that complement the law enforcement aspect of the campaign.

On the state of Philippines-US relations, Secretary Cayetano described his official visit to the US capital as “very productive” and that he saw indications of the relationship moving in an upward trajectory.

“Everyone agrees that the relationship between the US and the Philippines is strong,” the Secretary said of the views expressed in his meetings with US Government officials and members of the Washington think tank community.

During the extended Q&A session, the Secretary responded to queries on the need to strengthen and improve the capacities and accountability of Philippine law enforcement agencies; US participation in the ASEAN and Related meetings in Manila this November, the concerns arising from the nuclear program of North Korea, and the Philippines’ relationship with China.

SOURCE: Embassy of the Philippines, Washington, DC

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