MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday conceded that his war on drugs may not be won after all, saying the problem is even bigger than he thought.
Duterte has launched a bloody war on drugs that has gotten human rights advocates concerned. Police say 2,004 people have been killed by officers in self-defense during anti-drug operations since the president took office on July 1. Another 3,060 killings have been classified as "deaths under investigation" or DUI.
In a speech in Malacañang, Duterte said he just realized the vastness of the illegal drug problem in the country and he may not have enough power to end it within his term.
“Ang problema ko ngayon sa droga, pati corruption, I will hit hard. God help me, but I cannot. We were discussing it, I was talking to the Speaker [Pantaleon Alvarez], I included him sa National Security Council. And I said hindi ko ito kaya. And even if Congress would give me carta blanca [unconditional] authority to kill everybody, I won't have the time nor the bullets to do it,” he said.
“You must be put on notice now. Mabuti yung malaman niyo.”
In the middle of his speech, Duterte again brought out his thick document consisting the names of policemen and government officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
“This is the drug industry. So, if you expect miracles from my government, forget it,” he said.
“I wanted to meet the Speaker… and the Senate President [Aquilino] Pimentel. Sabi ko sa kanila, ‘Hindi ko kaya ito’… Hindi ko kaya to kasi sobra karami. These are all names, pare-pareho iyan. Kaya it took [me] time to say that I will have to say my piece because you must understand me. If you cannot understand me, we’ll have a troubled life here.”
The president said the voluminous document consists of the names of about 1,800 policemen and hundreds of barangay captains, city mayors and a few congressmen.
Duterte said, the Philippines became a “narco-politics” state 15 years ago.
“I’d like to ask for an advice. Anong dapat gawin ko? Ako gusto kong umiyak. Talagang parang hindi ko kaya. Hindi ko kaya kung ganoong karami,” he said.
“I now realized that about 15 years ago, 17 years ago, we were already a narco-politics country, exactly just like the Latin American nations that are already fractured.”
The president, nonetheless, said he won’t stop his war on drugs.
“Pero kung sabihin mo na aatras ako, I cannot because I cannot afford it. I cannot now stop the momentum with the 4 million drug addicts spread through the country. I would be abandoning my job.
It is a harsh job but somebody has to be crucified for it,” he said.
Duterte won the election on a campaign promise to rid the country of illegal drugs and crime in at least three months. He has since asked for an extension of his self-imposed deadline.