SRI Lanka President Maithripala Siresena yesterday rewrote the record books not only because he became the first foreign leader to visit the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame.
He was also the first foreign head of state to pay tribute to members of the 190,000-strong police force who have either been killed or wounded while fighting armed and defiant drug dealers since the Duterte administration launched a bloody war on narcotics in 2016 and said the campaign should be an “example” for the whole world.
Over 5,000 armed drug offenders have been killed in gunfights with undercover policemen since July 2016. Over a dozen police officers and men have also died in actual anti-narcotics operations during the period.
In a talk with the PNP leadership headed by Director General Oscar D. Albayalde and newsmen, the Sri Lanka leader recognized PNP officers and men who have been shot dead in clashes with drug dealers in the country and recounted cases of Sri Lanka policemen who have also been killed in fighting illegal drugs in his country.
“I understand that all of you here carry out your duties putting your life on the line. In Sri Lanka, too, many police officers have lost their lives as a result of action by drug traffickers and we have responded to them accordingly,” he said drawing applause from the crowd.
The confessed fan of President Duterte’s war on drugs expressed belief that
the international community must respect the Duterte government’s crackdown against illegal drug and trafficking.
“I believe the entire world, not only the government of Sri Lanka, the entire world must respect the difficult task carried out by your President, your government and all of you as public officials,” he said.
Gen. Albayalde described the Sri Lanka president’s visit to Camp Crame as “very fruitful and productive.”
He said that during their talk with the foreign leader, they found out that Sri Lanka was experiencing a major drug problem just like here.
“It was very fruitful and very productive. I think sila mismo narealize pareho yung problema nila sa atin. ‘Di lang natin alam ang Sri Lanka kung ano exactly problema nila sa illegal drugs,” the PNP chief said.
According to the PNP chief, President Sirisena fully appreciated the PNP’s presentation of the government’s program on curbing illegal drugs in the Philippines including its program to convince drug dealers and users to return to the mainstream of society after undergoing rehabilitation.
“Very appreciative yung presidente ng Sri Lanka dun sa ating presentation at nakita niya at sinabi niya na magandang gayahin yung ating ‘whole of government approach’,” Gen. Albayalde said.
The Sri Lanka leader was accorded full state honors upon arrival and was received by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año and Albayalde at the PNP Multi-Purpose Center where a formal program was held for the visiting delegation on the last leg of the 5-day Sri Lankan leader’s state visit to the Philippines.
“The PNP is honored to host this first ever visit to the PNP National Headquarters by a foreign head of state,” Gen. Albayalde said.
Dangerous Drugs Board chairman, Secretary Catalino S. Cuy gave a briefing for the Sri Lankan head of state on the national anti-illegal drugs campaign being waged by the Duterte administration.
A static display and photo exhibit depicting scenes from actual anti-illegal drugs operations was also presented to the Sri Lankan delegation.