MANILA — Naturalized Filipino businessman Peter Wallace said Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte’s intensified war on illegal drugs had certainly made an “impact to date.”
”There’s no question all the numbers seem to say that drug proliferation has declined dramatically. Whether this can be continued, I’m not sure,” Wallace said at a briefing in Malacanang.
Wallace noted that more than 732,000 drug personalities have surrendered, 22,387 have been arrested and 3,441 were killed including 1,385 in legitimate police operations.
Wallace said that a worldwide attempt to eliminate illegal drugs was launched in 1998 but after 10 years, “it was a complete failure.”
”Some 300 billion dollars were spent and it failed. This is a very difficult problem,” Wallace said.
While the Philippines campaign is making headway, Wallace also suggested to government to consider legalizing prohibited drugs particularly marijuana.
”It may not be the right approach. My own thinking which is very radical even more than his (Duterte), is to legalize drugs,” Wallace said.
Wallace said number of deaths from overdose and crimes in countries, like Poland, that legalized prohibited drugs have decreased dramatically.
”Marijuana, for example, is proven medically to be less harmful than cigarettes and yet cigarettes are legal so why isn’t marijuana? As a very first step I would legalize marijuana,” Wallace said.
”Poland has done this, and has been successful. So let’s look at the example of Poland and see if we can replicate it,” he suggested.
Wallace said educating kids on how harmful drugs are would also help to encourage the teens not to try illegal drugs.
”We’ve seen this in cigarettes. The decline in cigarette smoking is quite noticeable throughout the world today because of the education,” he said.
President Duterte’s war on drugs has prompted some world leaders particularly from the United States, United Nations and European Union to denounce the alleged extra-judicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines.
President Duterte lashed back at his critics, throwing series of expletives particularly against US leaders, including President Barack Obama.
Wallace said President Duterte’s recent tirades are the President’s own style of “expressionism.”
”He doesn’t mean for Obama to go to hell, right? It’s just the way he talks, right? He’s trying, I think, to establish that the Philippines is a truly independent country. It is no longer a colony of the US. It is no longer subservient in any way to the US,” Wallace said.
He said President Duterte’s unusual way of dealing with his foreign critics is internationally unacceptable “but it’s his way.”
”I’m not sure that the foreign community will ever be able to understand it but I think people in the US government will, right? I think the people in the White House are smart enough to know that what he’s saying is not what he intends,” Wallace said.
Wallace, an Australian businessman who has been recently granted Philippine citizenship, believes that President Duterte is not trying to divorce himself from the US.
”That would make no sense, right? He’s just trying to establish an equal partnership and that’s a different thing,” he said.
Wallace said the allegations of extrajudicial killings of the drug suspects and the controversial statements of President Duterte are also not affecting business.
”Business is not affected directly, right? It’s more perceptual. There’s no question that there has been some concern raised by some of the foreign business community over this but nobody is withdrawing, no companies are going out,” he said.
After coming to Manila in 1975, Wallace formed the Wallace Business Forum which helps top business executives understand the business environment in the Philippines.
He has been vocal against previous administrations and has written articles on doing business in the Philippines. Jelly Musico/PNA-northboundasia.com