MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday admitted that he cannot solve the drug problem in the Philippines soon despite asking for an extension to his initial promise of ending it in 6 months.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Duterte said it was a “miscalculation” on his part when he promised during the election campaign to end the drug scourge in 3 to 6 months.
Duterte argued, he did not know the extent of the country’s drug problem until he became the president of the Philippines.
“No,” said Duterte when asked whether his government would be able to solve the drug problem based on the new deadline.
“Sinasabi ko I’ll finish it in six months. Ang akala ko ganoon lang -shabu dito, shabu ng kaunti.”
Duterte said, the drug problem has become more complex and even harder to solve because terrorist groups are now into it.
“We are facing a terrorism threat. It will be a compounded issue. Itong mga Maute that’s rampaging now in Lanao -- of course yung MI(LF) and MN(LF) are ready to talk to us -- it is being driven by drugs,” he said.
“We have terrorism which is being fed with drugs in Mindanao and Visayas. Ang problema pati dito sa Luzon, so we are trying to figure it out.”
Duterte won the election on a campaign promise to rid the country of illegal drugs and crime in three to 6 months. He has since asked for an extension of his self-imposed deadline.
The president’s drug war has earned him global condemnation, as the death toll in his campaign has reached around 6,000.
Duterte said, he is “not concerned at all” about the estimated 4,000 people killed by suspected vigilantes. These cases are categorized by the police as “deaths under investigation.”
“[I’m] not concerned at all. It’s either you really do something about the program or not,” he said.
The president also shrugged off growing concerns that innocent lives are being lost in his drug war.
“It’s a claim. If you can give me a lie, I could make it ten times better,” Duterte said when asked to react to families seeking justice for their slain loved ones whom they claim to be innocent.
“Alam ko kasi lumalaban talaga. They are committing crimes. They are ready to fight it out because of constant use of shabu,” he said.
Duterte added, the so-called collateral damage during police operations are normal, and that government forces may not be held criminally liable for the deaths of innocent civilians.
“Part of the criminal law natin is if there is a fight between security officers at tinamaan ka, tabla ka. The government is liable maybe civilly, but criminal wala,” he said.