MANILA - The government's anti-narcotics drive will be as "relentless" and "chilling" as the day it started 2 years ago, President Rodrigo Duterte said during his third State of the Nation Address on Monday.
"The war against illegal drugs will not be sidelined. Instead, it will be as relentless as chilling, if you will, as the day it began," Duterte said.
Drug dealers, he said, know too well that their illegal activities destroy families and cause slow deaths among narcotics users.
Police said at least 4,200 Filipinos have died in the war on drugs since May 2016 after fighting back against authorities. Rights groups, however, say the death toll is 3 times higher and does not include killings by alleged state-sponsored "vigilantes."
The President said human rights advocates cannot sway him to discontinue the drug war with protests.
"If you think that I can be dissuaded from continuing this fight because of demonstrations, your protests, which I by the way find misdirected, then you got it all wrong. Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives," he said, drawing applause from the audience.
"Human rights, to me, means giving Filipinos especially those at the society's fringes, a decent and dignified future through social and physical infrastructure necessary to better their lives and freedoms," he added.