Partido Lakas ng Masa presidential candidate Leody De Guzman said the campaign against illegal drugs should focus on treating the problem as a health issue.
“We must continue the war on drugs but not in a way where people involved are killed or treated as criminals. Let us treat it as a health problem,” he said in a Facebook livestream over the weekend.
De Guzman, who lamented that he was not invited to a television interview of presidential candidates that was aired Saturday, turned to social media instead to discuss his platform of government.
“I am not in favor of the killings committed in the implementation of the war on drugs. This shows that our position is correct that killings cannot resolve it. The killings are continuous but the drug problem also still persists,” he said.
Official data show more than 6,200 drug suspects have died in anti-narcotics operations since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in June 2016.
The bloody war of drugs has prompted judges at the International Criminal Court to approve a formal investigation into the killings.
The ICC, however, suspended the probe in November following a request by the Philippine government, saying it is conducting its own investigation.
Meanwhile, De Guzman addressed accusations that he is living a comfortable life while representing the working class.
“The members of my family are all workers. My wife works in a bank – she is a bank officer. My eldest child is in a call center. My youngest works on a cruise ship. And the other one also works in a call center,” he said.
De Guzman earlier drew flak after posting a Christmas photo of his family.
His running mate, Walden Bello, defended the post, saying workers deserve to have a decent life.
“A Christmas photo in a comfortable setting subjects Leody De Guzman’s family to online abuse by those who think they should be living in a hovel. What an ugly display of middle-class prejudice. Working people deserve respect,” Bello said.
“The middle class hates it when poor people get up in the world and begin to enjoy things that they feel only they and the rich deserve. That’s the kind of hypocrisy that is fueling the resentment of the masses,” Bello added.