MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said 2 in 100 Filipinos were still addicted to illicit drugs. What does this mean for his 4-year-old anti-narcotics drive that has left thousands dead?
For Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque, this only meant that some groups were still profiting from drug trafficking.
"Ang ibig sabihin lang po d'yan e talagang mayroon pa rin talagang maiitim ang budhi na patuloy ang pagkita nila dito sa pag-supply ng bawal na gamot," he told reporters on Tuesday.
(This just means that there are still people with an evil conscience who continue to earn from supplying illicit drugs.)
"Wala naman po talagang bansa na nagiging 100-percent drug-free. Pero ang sinasabi ni Pangulo, iyan ay cornerstone ng kaniyang administration. Habang siya'y nagiging banta, not just as an ordinary criminal act kundi it is already a threat to national security, eh bibigyan po iyan ng highest priority ng ating Presidente," he added.
(There is no country that is 100-percent drug-free. But what the President is saying is that will be a cornerstone of his administration. As long as it as threat, not just as an ordinary criminal act but a threat to national security, the President will give it the highest priority.)
Duterte on Monday night said 167 million Filipinos were addicted to drugs, more than the 100-million population of the country. Roque said this was a "typo error" and that the President meant 1.67 million drug users.
A landmark United Nations report in June said tens of thousands of people in the Philippines may have been killed in the war on drugs since mid-2016 amid "near impunity" for police and incitement to violence by top officials.
Government has many times explained those slain in anti-drug operations had violently resisted arrest, prompting operatives to open fire and defend themselves.
The Philippines will "fully cooperate" with the UN on human rights issues after the international body pledged "technical assistance" to help the Duterte government probe killings, Malacañang recently said.
— With a report from Reuters