Trump targets fentanyl flow from China
MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he predicted U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement of a crackdown on fentanyl and other opioids in America.
"Before I left, I was viewing CNN. Trump has declared a national emergency because of drugs. Sinabi ko na eh. Sinabi ko, kayo paimbestiga-imbestiga kay (Barack) Obama noon. One day to your sorrow. Oh kita mo ngayon. He just declared," Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.
"Look at the newspapers, sinabi niya, 'I will declare a national health issue.’ Illegal substance affects the health and affects the peace. 'Wag mong kalimutan yan," he added.
Trump on Friday announced steps to fight the opioid crisis in the U.S. by declaring it a national public health emergency and cracking down on the flow of the drug fentanyl.
"We are going to overcome addiction in America," Trump said at the White House.
Trump's declaration will redirect federal resources and loosen regulations to combat opioid abuse, senior U.S. administration officials said.
But it does not result in more money to combat the crisis. Some critics, including Democratic lawmakers, said the declaration was meaningless without additional funding.
Republican lawmakers called the president's declaration an important step in combating the crisis.
"This epidemic is a national health emergency," Trump said. "As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue."
The announcement disappointed some advocates and experts in the addiction fight, who said it was inadequate to fight a scourge that played a role in more than 33,000 deaths in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death rate has kept rising, estimates show.
More than 100 die in U.S. daily from overdose
Opioids, primarily prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, are fueling the drug overdoses. More than 100 Americans die daily from related overdoses, according to the CDC.
A White House commission on the drug crisis had urged Trump to declare a national emergency. On Wednesday, the president told Fox Business Network he would do so.
Officials told reporters on the conference call that Federal Emergency Management Agency funds that would have been released under a national emergency are already exhausted from recent storms that struck Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida.
The administration would have to work with Congress to help provide additional funding to address drug abuse, they added. They said they determined that a public health emergency declaration was most appropriate after an expansive review.
Under Thursday's declaration, treatment would be made more accessible for abusers of prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, while ensuring fewer delays in staffing the Department of Health and Human Services to help states grapple with the crisis.
Fentanyl from China
Trump said he would discuss stopping the flow of fentanyl, a drug 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Asia next month.
In his remarks, Trump said the U.S. Postal Service and Department of Homeland Security were "strengthening the inspection of packages coming into our country to hold back the flood of cheap and deadly fentanyl, a synthetic opioid manufactured in China."
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had always paid a great deal of attention to international cooperation against narcotics and had listed 23 components of fentanyl as controlled substances, despite not having a fentanyl abuse problem.
'On cloud nine'
Duterte in February brought up his controversial use of fentanyl.
In a speech in Davao City, Duterte admitted that he took more than the required dosage of the pain reliever because apart from easing his burden, it also made him feel like he was “on cloud nine.”
“Iyung Fentanyl, the doctor stopped it because he got mad. I’m supposed to cut it into four pieces. Eh there was a time na 'yung buo nilagay ko because more than just the disappearance of pain, you feel that you are on cloud nine. Para bang everything is okay with the world, nothing to worry about,” he said.
Duterte said he had to take fentanyl after a motorcycle accident when he was 68 years old. - with reports from Reuters