MANILA—People must be patient while the government pushes for the building of rehabilitation camps for drug users, said President Rodrigo Duterte, as these cannot be done overnight.
"I have ordered the opening of military camps," he said in a speech during a gathering with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting in Malacanang. "Give me one hectare in every region. I have to build rehab centers all over the country."
This is important, in the country’s war against drugs, he emphasized, as Filipinos cannot keep dying due to illegal substances.
"We cannot build a nation by killing our own citizens," he said, reiterating that if he cannot finish the country’s war on drugs, no Filipino president will be able to do it.
However, he expressed doubt that users of the synthetic drug shabu will have any chance of rehabilitation, due to the chemical's effect on the brain.
"Kaya tayo walang security," he said, referring to shabu users who commit crimes in pursuit of more resources to fuel their drug use.
While neither supporting nor condemning extra-judicial killings of suspected drug peddlers, he touted the benefits these [killings] have as incentive for criminals to surrender.
"I never said yes or no, but ngayon…it's [over 700 killed] to date...," he said. "It's war, not a crisis."
Despite the administration's stand on the war against drugs, however, human rights advocates have said that killings of suspected drug users and users are not acceptable drug control measures.
"President Duterte should understand that passive or active government complicity with those killings would contradict his pledge to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law," said the Human Rights Watch earlier this week.