MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte, who failed to deliver on his election promise of crushing illegal drugs in 3 to 6 months, said on Monday he "did not know that I was fighting my own government."
Duterte said, when he made the promise, he thought the narcotics situation "was like in Davao [City]," where he was a long-time mayor and where authorities could "coerce, intimidate or bribe" drug peddlers to leave.
However, he said he discovered that some policemen were "doing their thing, their drugs; they were the manufacturers and they were the distributor of drugs."
He added, "Customs and everyone else were facilitating the importation of drugs."
"Kaya ‘yan ang masakit sa loob ko (that is what really hurts me). I did not know that I was fighting my own government," Duterte said in his final State of the Nation Address (SONA).
With less than a year left in his presidency, he said, "There are about a thousand Filipinos arrested everyday by the police in connection with drug trafficking."
"And that is why I go crazy looking at the situation. They are still around," the President continued.
Issuing his oft-repeated threat, he told drug peddlers, "Those who destroy my country, I will kill you."
He said the International Criminal Court (ICC) "can record" his threat.
A former chief prosecutor of the ICC has requested a full-blown inquiry into the alleged crimes against humanity under Duterte's drug war.
More than 6,000 people have been killed in over 200,000 anti-drug operations conducted since July 2016, according to official data. Human rights groups estimate the number of dead could be several times higher.
Duterte refuses to submit to the ICC inquiry. In 2019, he withdrew the Philippines from the court after it launched a preliminary examination into the war on drugs.
The court could still investigate crimes committed while the country was a member, ICC's former chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said.
The Supreme Court has junked petitions questioning Duterte's withdrawal from the ICC, but it also reiterated in a ruling this July that the Philippines is still obliged to comply with the ICC treaty.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse