Pacquiao defends brutal drug war

TOKYO • The Philippines' drug problem is "beyond imagination", boxing legend Manny Pacquiao said yesterday in Tokyo, defending his hard-line president's controversial anti-drug campaign.

Mr Pacquiao, a national hero and senator, is a high-profile supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal war on crime that has left over 3,700 people dead in four months.

"The problem in our country is beyond of our expectation, beyond of our imagination..." he said at a press conference.

"A lot of our government officials, elected officials are involved with this illegal drug," he said, defending Mr Duterte's crackdown which has drawn global condemnation for alleged extrajudicial killings.

Mr Pacquiao, a convert to a conservative Christian sect, also supports Mr Duterte's call to restore the death penalty for drug traffickers in the mainly Catholic nation.

He was in Tokyo ahead of the opening of a new gym in his chain.

The 37-year-old shocked the world of sport in September when he admitted using narcotics in his youth. He said he "sampled" marijuana and "shabu", the local name for the cheap and highly addictive crystal meth stimulant, when he was 15 or 16.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 27, 2016, with the headline 'Pacquiao defends brutal drug war'. Print Edition | Subscribe