Press Release
January 20, 2017

Hontiveros on Duterte's slavery comment: Don't trivialize people's suffering

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday called President Rodrigo Duterte's attention after the country's Chief Executive compared drug addicts to African slaves, saying that at least African slaves can be put to work.

Hontiveros said the statement is racist and belittles the value of human life.

"This is the height of absurdity. The president tries to make light of slavery, which is universally frowned upon and condemned. His remarks were callous, insensitive and uninformed," Hontiveros said.

"Abuse is abuse. Whether drug addiction or slavery, the lives of the people that are trapped in these circumstances are incomparable. It is wrong to trivialize people's suffering and judge which situation is 'better' than the other," Hontiveros added.

Hontiveros said Duterte should stop referring to the ostracism and persecution done to people of different races when talking about the country's drug users.

"First it was the Holocaust, now it's slavery. When will this madness stop? I remind the President that drug addiction is a public health concern. Ostracizing drug addicts only make it extra difficult for the government to fully rehabilitate and reintegrate them back into society," Hontiveros remarked.

"What they need are appropriate health care interventions to manage and stop their addiction. The government should also recognize their right to decent work as a response to the roots of their dependence. The president should stop making it seem like drug dependents are better off sent to gas chambers or slave ships," Hontiveros said.

Last year, Duterte was reported to have compared his anti-drug campaign to the Holocaust. He said that he is willing to slaughter the country's drug users.

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