MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war accomplishments "remain unprecedented," his spokesperson said Thursday, after Duterte admitted he was wrong about ending the illegal drug trade in the country within 3 to 6 months.
Acting Palace spokesperson Martin Andanar said the President's statements "underscores the depth, the magnitude and the complexity of the problem which was unknown to him when he was a presidential candidate."
"The Palace... maintains that the... administration’s campaign against illegal drugs remains unprecedented as it is able to produce significant accomplishments in the number of drugs seized, dens and clandestine laboratories dismantled as well as drug-cleared barangays," Andanar said.
During his speech on Wednesday, Duterte said it could be "hubris" that motivated him to promise to end Philippines' illegal drugs problem.
“Sinasabi ko I can clean it in six months. Then after that, I realized na nagkamali talaga ako … Maybe it’s hubris. It was campaign time. Payabangan naman ’yang kampanya,” Duterte said.
But the Palace said that from July 1, 2016 until February 28 this year, over P63 billion or nearly 10,000 kilograms of shabu were already seized, while over 24,000 villages have been cleared of illegal drugs.
Aside from these more than 300,000 drug suspects have been arrested, data shared by the Palace showed.
Earlier in the day, self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa recanted all of his allegations against detained Sen. Leila de Lima, who has been detained since February 2017 over illegal drugs charges.
"Basically, binabawi niya or nire-recant niya whatever statements na sinabi niya kay Senator De Lima which implicated (the) senator sa illegal drug trade," his lawyer said.
The Palace has yet to issue a separate statement on the developments.
The Duterte administration is under investigation over alleged crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court for the thousands of deaths under his administration’s bloody war on drugs.
Duterte said he wants his successor to continue his drug war, even if the campaign was not strong as his.
Local and international human rights advocates have denounced his violent war on illegal drugs, wherein authorities said 6,200 individuals have been killed for resisting arrest.
However, rights advocates said 12,000 to 30,000 civilians, including children caught in the crossfire, have died in the Duterte administration's anti-narcotics campaign.