Duterte says he was 'offended' by Santiago’s comment on mega rehab center

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 08 2017 05:11 PM

MANILA - Baring the reason for Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chief Dionisio Santiago's resignation, President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he was offended by his comment that building the mega drug rehabilitation facility in Nueva Ecija was a mistake.

“I was offended. He could have asked me for an audience and tell me all about it,” Duterte told reporters prior to his departure for Vietnam to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.

“Kaya kita inilagay diyan not to issue statements to the press. Nilagay kita diyan para magpunta ka sa akin kung ano ang problema sa bayan at tuturuan mo kung nagkulang ako, kung ano ang dapat gawin. You don’t go open to the press and start to blabber,” he said. 

Santiago had tendered his irrevocable resignation on Monday on Duterte's orders, reportedly relayed to him by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea. This after Santiago called the construction of the mega drug rehabilitation facility a "mistake."

He was appointed just in July, shortly after Duterte fired then DDB chair Benjamin Reyes in May for contradicting his estimate on the number of drug users in the country. 

The President had said there are about 4 million Filipinos addicted to drugs while Reyes said there are 1.8 million drug addicts. 

Santiago, a former military chief and head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, had made the comment in an interview on ANC's Headstart on Nov. 1. 

He said money used for the Mega Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Nueva Ecija could have been used to fund smaller community-based rehabilitation programs.

The rehab center was a key project under Duterte's war on drugs built in partnership with philanthropists, led by Chinese tycoon Huang Rulun.

"That was a mistake. Ang problema, naging excited si President. 'Yung ginasta doon, puwedeng ginamit sa mga community-based rehab yun, malilit which can only accommodate siguro mga 150 to 200," Santiago told ANC's Headstart.

He said admitting drug dependents to the treatment center must be difficult due to its location.