Duterte admits drug war more difficult than he imagined

Bangkok, Jul 26 (EFE).- The President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte on Monday admitted in the state of the nation address that his bloody war against drugs has ended up becoming more difficult than he had thought after coming to power in 2016, when he had promised to solve the problem in half a year.

“When I first said I will fight drugs in six months, I thought it was like in Davao. You can either coerce, intimidate or bribe them or give them money,” Duterte said, referring to the city where he served as mayor and became famous for his ruthless campaign against crime.

In the last state of the nation address before his term ends in June 2022, the president reaffirmed the legitimacy of his strategy against drugs and mocked the International Criminal Court at the Hague, which has opened an investigation against him over possible crimes against humanity in his drug war, in which thousands have been killed.

“I’ll never deny, and the ICC can record it: Those who destroy my country, I will kill you. And those who destroy the young people of our country, I will kill you. (…) Because I love my country,” said the president, adding that “we all can do it the legal way but it would take you months and years.”

On Jun. 14, the ICC had sought judicial authorization to investigate the alleged crimes against humanity carried out during Duterte’s campaign against drugs.

“The available information indicates that members of the Philippine National Police, and others acting in concert with them, have unlawfully killed between several thousand and tens of thousands of civilians during that time,” Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

In recent weeks many analysts had speculated that Duterte might be planning to run for the post of vice president in the 2022 elections, with his daughter Sara poised to become president in order to avoid being taken to the Hague.

However, the leader quashed the rumors by praising senator Vicente Sotto as a good vice-presidential candidate.

The last year and a-half year of Duterte’s term has been overshadowed by the Covid-19 crisis, which has killed over 27,000 people in the country and infected 1.5 million Filipinos.

There have been fears of a fresh surge due to the more infections Delta variant and vaccine hesitancy among a sizable part of the population. EFE

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