President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday warned anew of his "unrelenting" war against illegal drugs despite "international pressures" as he delivered his 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA).
"The fight against illegal drugs will continue because that is the root cause of so much evil and so much suffering that weakens the social fabric and deters foreign investments from pouring in," Duterte said before lawmakers at the House of Representatives.
Duterte said his critics at home and abroad should focus on using their influence to educate Filipinos of the ills of illicit drugs.
"The fight will be unrelenting...the fight will not stop until those who deal in it understand they have to cease, they have to stop because the alternatives are either jail or hell," added Duterte, who drew criticisms from international leaders and human rights groups.
Duterte also vowed that drug peddlers "will not have the luxury of enjoying their greed and madness."
"There is a jungle out there, there are beasts and vultures preying on the helpless, the innocent, the unsuspecting. I will not allow the ruin of the youth, disintegration of families and retrogression of communities forced by criminals whose greed for money is as insatiable as it is devoid of moral purpose," he added.
Duterte has shrugged off criticisms on his war on drugs, saying he has to carry on with his crusade to save the youth.
“I don’t intend to lose in the campaign, or lose the fight against illegal drug. Neither do I intend to preside over destruction of Filipino by being timid and tentative in my decisions and actions,” he said.
“To the critics against the fight, your efforts will be better spent if you use the influence, moral authority and ascendancy of your organizations over your respective sectors to educate the people on the ills of illegal drugs.”
The Duterte administration has many times defended its drug war against critics, saying reported figures- from 7,000 to 9,000- were overblown.
Latest Philippine National Police (PNP) data show that a total of 3,200 drug personalities were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to June 20, 2017, or 9 killed daily in presumed legitimate anti-drug operations in the first year of the Duterte administration.
The PNP has also determined that out of the 12,833 homicide cases from July 1, 2016 to June 16, 2017, 2,098 deaths were drug-related and 2,535 non-drug related. A total of 8,200 homicide cases were under investigation "with motives to be determined," the PNP said.