House dangerous drugs panel chairman, Congressman Robert Ace Barbers has joined the movement of solons who have sworn to defend former president Rodrigo Duterte from an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in connection with the latter's war on illegal drugs.
Not only that, Barbers is also calling on Filipino netizens to use the hashtag #DefendDuterte if they believe--as he does--that Duterte’s aggressive drug war saved the Philippines from becoming a "narco state".
“As chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs during the whole Duterte administration, I have seen the gravity of the drug problem first hand. May position gave me privilege access to all information on the real situation," said the lawmaker from Surigao del Norte's 2nd district.
"The war on drugs abated what could have been an irreversible disaster, that of our country becoming a narco state,” he said.
For this reason, Barbers said he is fully and unequivocally supporting the House resolution (HR) defending the former chief executive against the ICC's looming investigation on crimes against humanity.
Barbers was referring to HR No.780, titled, “A resolution in defense of former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines, against investigation and/or prosecution of the International Criminal Court”.
No less than House Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led 18 other solons in filing the measure. Arroyo is also a former president of the country.
"I'm encouraging Filipino netizens to use the hashtag #DefendDuterte especially if they believe that Duterte’s drug war benefited the country," Barbers said.
“Years of neglect corrupted institutions and transformed them into weak weapons against the illegal drug trade. The ascent of President Duterte into the Presidency was a blessing for this country," he said.
"I am sure that if he did not become the President, we are now a certified narco state. His tough resolve to fix the problem gave us all the hope and the breathing space we badly needed,” he added.
The Mindanao congressman insisted that Duterte's hardline stance against illegal drugs wasn't a mistake.
"His policy should not be equated to the situation on the ground. Policy is different from implementation. If those who were tasked to implement the policy overdid it and committed abuses, the former President should not be faulted for them,” he explained.
Duterte was Philippine president from 2016 to 2022.