President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to bring down the country’ s drug problem to its “lowest” before he steps down in 2022—that is, if he’s still alive by then.
Speaking before FIlipino-American diplomats late Friday night, Duterte assured his audience that the four million drug addicts in the country will be at its historic low as soon as he ends his term
“I assure you, by the time I make my—kung buhay pa ako—[if I’m still alive] five years from now, drugs will be at its lowest,” he said at the 11th Ambassadors’ Tour Philippine Reception at his hometown Davao City.
The President then ordered the military to hunt down drug addicts—a job being done by the police— offering them of protection if they “kill” them.
“Get out of my city if you’re doing drugs or other crimes, because if you don’t, I’ll kill you. It is never wrong for a President to say that,” Duterte said.
“To all the military men and to all the police, go out and hunt for them and I will protect you,” he said
“Anong gawain ng gobyerno with that kind of insidious—buhayin kita? Hindi kita patayin but I will destroy you. By what? When you destroy a person, you destroy a person. He becomes extinct. That’s really what it is.”
Duterte’s brutal drug war, which has been criticized by human rights groups saw the death of over 7,000 since he assumed office in July last year.
Amid allegations that his administration is waging a culture of death following the spike of extrajudicial killings in the country, Duterte said in the latter part of his speech that he does not relish the term attributed to his bloody drug war.
“I do not enjoy the extrajudicial killing term. I do not relish killing people,” he said.
In a related development, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III challenged village officials to prove President Duterte is wrong about allegations that several village leaders in the country are involved in illegal drugs.
“If the report is wrong, then maybe there is no need to discuss appointments to replace barangay officials,” said Pimentel in his speech before participants of the Strategic Consultation and Workshop on Federalism, Barangay Reform, and Role of Barangays in National Security Concerns.
Duterte earlier said that 40 percent of barangay officials are linked to illegal drugs or directly involved in drug dealing and trafficking.
Philippine Dug Enforcement Agency officials also said the international drug syndicates are operating in the country in cahoots with government officials and community leaders.
Since July 1 last year, at least 39 village chairmen and 53 village councilmen have been arrested due to involvement in illegal drugs.
Pimentel said the barangay chairmen would have to prove to the President and the anti-drug agencies like PDEA and Philippine National Police that there is no truth to the report.
“So that is I think a challenge to each and every one of you,” the Senate President said. “If the barangay is drug-infested, heavily drug-infested, our intelligence community would believe that the barangay leaders are involved in drugs—that is a reasonable conclusion.”
Pimentel urged community leaders to show policymakers that they are making a sincere effort to defeat the drug menace.
He said if this is accomplished, the only question before Congress would be the postponement of barangay elections and there would be no discussion about the appointment of barangay officials.
Pimentel reminded village chairmen that Congress and the President already postponed barangay elections in the previous year in the hopes of removing the influence of drug peddlers in the elections. He then discussed the upcoming barangay elections in October, and the President’s proposal to postpone the polls and appoint replacements for the incumbents.
Pimentel said that the constitutionality of the appointments is still under study and invited the Liga ng mga Barangays to submit its own position paper on the matter.
Authorities suggested a target of 30 percent of barangays must be cleared yearly with the hope of totally eradicating the drug menace in four years.
As of March 29, the National Capital Region has the highest drug affectation of 97.30 percent, with the cities of Caloocan, Navotas, Valenzuela, Muntinlupa and Taguig obtaining 100 percent, while Las Piñas has the least affectation of 55 percent.
The drug problem in the Philippines, authorities added, will continue unless the administration of President Duterte get rid of government officials and law enforcers protecting drug syndicates.
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