18 August 2016

President Duterte lashes out at critics of anti-drugs campaign
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte slammed his critics and reiterated on Wednesday his commitment to pursue a relentless campaign against illegal drugs.

In his speech during the 115th Police Service Anniversary Celebration in Camp Crame, he said he has been hearing a lot of rantings against his campaign against illegal drugs.

“Let be me frank with you this afternoon: The fight against drugs will continue and unrelenting until we have destroyed the apparatus operating in the entire country,” he said in his speech.

The President also accused a senator of having an illicit affair with one of her staff and of having received funds from narcotics syndicates.

Human rights advocates and some lawmakers have been critical of the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs.

But the President said his government’s campaign is justified, noting the country is already devastated by drugs and it is his obligation to address it.

He argued that based on a PDEA report two years ago, there were more than three million drug addicts in the Philippines and this figure could be conservatively put at 3.7 million today.

Duterte said he takes full responsibility for the outcome of the police operations against drug syndicates.

He also chided the United Nations (UN) for interfering in the campaign against illegal drugs in the country. The UN can only investigate genocides or mass murders against humanity, he said.

A thousand deaths in the Philippines’ campaign against drugs and criminality is a minuscule figure, he said, adding the UN has not taken notice of mass murders happening in different parts of the world such as in Middle East.

“What’s the problem? You inject politics on the 1,000 who died and you put my country in peril and jeopardy for the 600 now lives wasted, destroyed, families broken, children with so many orphans,” he said.

On the rising numbers of anti-drug war casualties, he said there are obviously clashes between rival drug gangs in the country, with some groups seizing the opportunity to eliminate their competitors as the police intensified its anti-drug operations.

“For those who are killed by other drug syndicates, we can only investigate, but do not attribute the acts of other criminals upon my government,” he told his critics.

Duterte said he cannot govern with a corrupt police and military. He vowed to increase police and soldiers’ pay.

The President promised to double police officers’ salaries starting December. In his previous statements, he said would incrementally increase the wages of soldiers starting August.

The police and the military will receive the adjustments in their salaries because they are risking their lives in combat operations or during patrols, he said.

Duterte also vowed to fight graft and corruption in the police force.

Defending the police against critics seeking explanations for recent deaths, he said law enforcers have the right to use deadly force when they think their lives are in danger.

And to allay worries of the police on possible charges they may face in doing their duties, he said he will back them up as he did in Davao City when he was the city mayor.

As he announced previously, the President said he will be using parts of military camps as drug rehabilitation sites.

The problem however is that the government doesn’t have much resources for the initiative and may need assistance from other countries, the President said.