Duterte: Drug war 'far from over'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) — President Rodrigo Duterte's war against illegal drugs is far from over despite criticisms from human rights advocates.

During his third State of the Nation Address on Monday, he said his administration will continue its unrelenting fight to eradicate illegal drugs.

"The war against illegal drugs is far from over. This is why the illegal drugs war will not be sidelined. Instead, it will be as relentless and chilling, if you will, as on the day it began," he said.

Over 102,000 anti-drug operations were conducted during the first two years of the fight against illegal drugs — one of his campaign promises. A total of 147,000 drug personalities were arrested, while P14.66 billion worth of illegal drugs were seized, according to government records.

With this success, there is also a downside: 4,354 drug personalities died during anti-drug operations July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018, official data showed. Almost 23,000 other suspected drug-related deaths are still being investigated.

The President also slammed human rights activists who criticize the drug war, calling their efforts "misdirected." A number of human rights groups and critics of Duterte have flagged the anti-drug campaign as bloody and violent.

"If you think that I can be dissuaded from continuing this fight because of [your] demonstrations, your protests, which I find, by the way, misdirected, then you got it all wrong. Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives," he said.

Vice President Leni Robredo's legal counsel Barry Gutierrez said Duterte is launching a war against human rights, adding there can be no human lives if there is no respect for human rights.

The president, in his speech, said the human rights groups and church leaders should instead focus their attention on the drug lords and drug pushers who are violating laws.

"When illegal drug operations turn nasty and bloody, advocates of human rights lash at — and pillory — our law enforcers and this administration no end. Sadly, I have yet to hear really howls of protest from the human rights advocates and church leaders against drug-lordism, drug dealing, and drug pushing," Duterte said.

 

Majority of Filipinos believe the war on drugs is the Duterte administration's most important achievement since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in July 2016, according to a Pulse Asia survey conducted in June.

Related: Filipinos see drug war as Duterte's biggest achievement – survey