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US-based group that organized UN event denies timing of Leni video linked to Duterte impeach raps

InterAksyon file photo of Vice President Leni Robredo
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines – The Washington-based group that organized the recent forum for the 60th United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs annual meeting in Vienna denied that the timing of the release of Vice President Leni Robredo video message to the UN was linked to last week’s impeachment complaint filed against President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The vice president's office did not make any requests of us as to timing or any other matters. We released it a few days before the session as a media strategy to draw attention to Pres. Duterte's atrocities,” said David Borden, executive director of the Drug Reform Coordination Network, in a recent statement furnished to media by the office of Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.

Borden said he could attest that the date of their forum on drugs was scheduled months ago by the U.N.

To prove the veracity of his statement, Borden said he had attached the word file that the UN staff has sent them in January,  “specifying what the event's date would be, as well as a screen shot verifying that file's authoring date as in January.”

Meanwhile, Borden said their network had received a written statement from Rep. Earl Blumenauer, member of the US Congress from Oregon, who that, "What’s been happening in the Philippines is horrifying.”

According to Borden, Blumenauer further said that, “Instead of escalating this violence through chilling episodes like those on display in the Philippines, we need a just and compassionate approach to drug policy that focuses on public health and harm reduction.”

“The international community must prioritize these changes. Our goal should be to put an end to mindless military action and hard-edged policies that have proven to fail, and replace them with more effective regulation and treatment,” Borden quoted the U.S. lawmaker as saying.

Borden said he could provide further documentation of the UN's scheduling process for his group’s event, contact information for Rep. Blumenauer's office, past statements by U.S. senators expressing concern over the Philippines’ war on drugs, and discussions on possible restrictions on U.S. aid to the Philippines because of the growing number of cases of extrajudicial killings and other related information as needed.

The Drug Reform Coordination Network was founded in 1993. It said it had quickly grown into a major U.S. and global network including parents, educators, students, lawyers, health care professionals, academics, and others working for drug policy reform from a variety of perspectives, including harm reduction, reform of sentencing and forfeiture laws, medicalization of currently schedule I drugs, and promotion of an open debate on drug prohibition.

The network said it opposes the prison-building frenzy and supports rational policies consistent with the principles of peace, justice, freedom, compassion and truth, saying each of these has been compromised in the name of the drug war.