MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said Cebu is now considered a "hot spot" for illegal drugs, putting a spotlight on the province in the wake of a string of busts over recent months.
"I see Cebu also as a hot spot sa droga, kasali ang pulis," Duterte said in a speech delivered at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology anniversary Wednesday afternoon.
"The Visayas was poisoned. Iloilo is the bedrock. Doon pinapadaan ang shabu sa Visayas," he added.
Duterte's remarks came after a series of anti-drug operations in Cebu, where even local officials were arrested.
Last month, almost half a million pesos worth of illegal drugs was confiscated at an alleged drug den in Cebu City.
At least 11 minors, who served as drug couriers, were also rescued in a separate operation.
A barangay chairman was meanwhile arrested in Cebu's Badian town in a sting operation on Wednesday, while three other local officials fell in a drug bust in San Fernando town on Friday.
Duterte urged jail officials to curb the source of drugs in the country by imposing stiffer inspections and sanctions against inmates who still engage in drug transactions inside penal colonies.
"Ang droga, bumalik na naman (sa kulungan). Kapag nakapasok ang cellphone diyan (sa kulungan), negosyo na talaga," Duterte said.
"'Wag ka maniwala sa human rights, 'wag ka maniwala na bawal ang bartolina. Gusto magsosyalan? Kaya mo nga kinulong yan eh. You just need to cut them off from the rest," he said.
Since he rose to power in 2016, Duterte has waged an intensified campaign against illegal drugs.
The campaign has drawn international criticism over alleged extrajudicial killings, but the administration has repeatedly explained that reported executions are not state-sanctioned.
According to data from the Philippine National Police, of the total 9,432 homicide cases recorded from July 2016 to March 2017, 1,847 deaths were said to be drug-related, while 1,894 were not. The remaining 5,691 cases, or approximately 60 percent of the total, were still under investigation.
A total of 3,151 drug personalities have meanwhile been killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to June 13, 2017.