Anti-drug drive to continue 'until last drug lord is killed': Duterte

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (far left) and Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco inspecting the new drug treatment centre yesterday.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (far left) and Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco inspecting the new drug treatment centre yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Duterte maintains his hard line at opening of drug treatment centre

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte inaugurated a drug rehabilitation and treatment centre yesterday that can treat thousandsof addicts as he reiterated his vow to pursue his controversial anti-crime drive and told human rights activists not to interfere.

"The campaign against drugs will continue till the last day of my term. I will not stop until the last drug pusher is out of the street and the last drug lord or king killed," he said after inspecting the facility.

The 100,000 sq m centre, inside a military camp in Laur town in Nueva Ecija province, 200km north of Manila, can treat 10,000 patients.

About 700,000 addicts have registered with the authorities since Mr Duterte took office on June 30 and began his anti-crime drive.

About 2,400 mostly small-time drug users and dealers have died at the hands of police and suspected vigilantes.

Referring to human rights activists, Mr Duterte, who claims that drugs affect more than three million Filipinos, said: "I told them, 'Okay, let's stop (the killings). We'll let (drug users) multiply so that when it's harvest time, more people will die.'"

NO BACKDOWN

The campaign against drugs will continue till the last day of my term.

PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE

He then added: "I will include (human rights activists) because you are the reason why their numbers swell."

The government plans to build four more "mega" treatment facilities elsewhere in the country.

Health Minister Paulyn Ubial said an initial batch of 2,500 addicts would be housed at the Laur facility for six to 12 months.

She said about 800 staff members would run the 1.4 billion peso (S$27 million) facility, which was largely paid for by rags-to-riches Chinese philanthropist and real estate tycoon Huang Rulun. His construction company, Century Golden Resources, owns 20 hotels and 10 shopping malls across China.

"Drugs have long plagued governments and people all over the world, and the spread of drugs has brought great harm to the economic development and social stability of all countries in the world," Mr Huang said at the facility's inauguration.

Mr Duterte has said initiatives like Mr Huang's were what had compelled him to forge closer ties with Beijing.

On Monday, Mr Duterte hit out at what he called "bullshit" Western threats to seek his indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his role in the bloody crackdown on drugs.

An ICC prosecutor last month said the Hague-based tribunal might have jurisdiction to prosecute the perpetrators of the killings in the Philippines.

Mr Duterte scolded the United States, a long-time ally of the Philippines, for what he called its hypocritical threat to try him in the ICC, to which Washington itself is not a signatory. He did not specify when the alleged US threat was made.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2016, with the headline 'Anti-crime drive to continue 'until last drug lord is killed''. Print Edition | Subscribe