Duterte: Drug suspects will see jail or hell in gov't's 'unrelenting' war

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Photo courtesy of Alfred Frias (Presidential Photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 24) — Choose between hell or imprisonment. Those are the only two options President Rodrigo Duterte gave drug suspects as the government continues its crackdown on illegal drugs.

During his second State of the Nation Address on Monday, Duterte said there is no let-up in the all-out war against illegal drugs.

"I have resolved that no matter how long it takes, the fight against illegal drugs will continue because that is the root cause of so much evil and so much suffering that weakens the social fabric and deters foreign investors from coming in the country. The fight will be unremitting, as it will be unrelenting... I do not intend to loosen the leash in the campaign or lose the fight against illegal drugs," he said.

He added, "Despite international and local pressures, the fight will not stop until those who deal in it understand that they have to cease, they have to stop because the alternatives are either jail or hell."

Police waged an all-out war against illegal drugs upon Duterte's orders when he took office on July 1, 2016.

Read more: Duterte administration's controversial drug war

The drug war is criticized by the administration and opposition lawmakers, the United Nations, and local and international human rights groups for thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings supposedly committed by police officers.

Duterte condemned United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, who quoted a professor who said there is no evidence metaphetamine causes brain damage.


Looking for Callamard in the plenary hall, he urged the critics of the drug war to focus on a single issue, and not bring up human rights when it doesn't concern  government's action towards ridding the country of drugs.

"If you want to criticize, criticize, condemn the act, stop there. But do not give the excuse or do not make it trivial by saying human rights at least we'll be protected. When you criticize, stick on one topic," Duterte said, "May namatay na diyan, akala mo kung sino ka. What have you done in the name of human rights?"

Duterte urged the critics of the drug war to look beyond their biases and political agenda.

"To the critics against this fight, your efforts will be better spent if you use the influence, moral authority, and ascendancy of your organizations over your respective sectors to educate the people on the evils of illegal drugs instead of condemning the authorities and unjustly blaming for every killing that bloodies this country," he said.

Despite this pronouncement, Duterte clarified he values lives the same way he values his own life.

In June, Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said 81,986 drug suspects have been arrested since the implementation of the drug war, while 3,135 drug suspects were killed during police's anti-drugs operations.

Related: PNP: War on drugs to continue on Duterte's second year

Dela Rosa reported the rate of index crimes, such as murder, homicide, rape, theft, and robbery, went down 27 percent as compared to the same period last year.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group said reported crimes decreased from 626,567 in July 2015 to June 2016 to 565,158 in July 2016 to June 2017.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency is targeting to wipe out illegal drugs from more than 6,000 barangays by the end of the year.

Related: PH drug war to focus on clearing barangays - authorities

Duterte has said the country has over three million drug users in the country. Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chairman Dionisio Santiago stood by the figure despite his admission it is his personal "guesstimate."

Related: Dangerous Drugs Board: 3 million figure for drug users 'a guesstimate'