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Duterte says he will continue to 'operate' against illegal drugs

Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Sunday to continue to wage his war against illegal drugs -- but he has yet figure out how -- even after he steps down from office on June 30.

Duterte made the remark during the commissioning of the Barko ng Pangulo ng Pilipinas Melchora Aquino, the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) Multi-Role Response Vessel 9702, at South Harbor in Manila.

“I will continue to operate. Bahala na kung papano, basta I will continue to operate against illegal drugs. Ngayon ‘yung gusto pumasok, I’m warning you, buhay [sa] buhay lang tayo (those who want to do drugs, we’re talking about lives here) -- either you kill me or I will kill you. Simple as that,” he said.

“Hindi ko papayagan. Even as ex or former President, hindi ko payagan ‘yang society, ‘yung mga anak natin sisisrain mo. P*tang*n*, papatayin talaga kita. Wala akong pakialam,” he added.

(I will not allow illegal drugs. Even as a former President, I will not let drugs run the society and destroy the lives of our children. I will kill you. I don’t care.)

Duterte also said he is not bothered by the criticisms thrown at him due to the alleged extrajudicial killings under his administration.

“Ang order ko talaga sa inyo noon pa (my order before was), go out and destroy the apparatus of the drug syndicates in the Philippines. If you have to kill, because you have to protect yourselves from being killed, do it at ako ang nagbigay ng order (because I gave the order),” he said.

“I will assume full legal responsibility. Akin yan. Akin lang yan. Sinasalo ko lahat. Basta ikaw magtrabaho ka diyan, drug or something" (The responsibility is mine alone. Just do your job),” he added, urging the law enforcers not to be afraid of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

An ICC probe, which was deferred in November 2021 upon the request of the Philippine government, stemmed from the complaint of the families of those killed in the drug war and human rights advocates.

Based on government records, over 6,000 drug suspects have been killed during the police's anti-drug operations since Duterte assumed office on June 30, 2016.

However, several human rights groups insist that the actual drug war death toll  could be between 12,000 to 30,000.

Don't let drugs destroy the country

Further, Duterte asked law enforcers not to let drugs overrun and destroy the country.

“If the performance is noble and you run into trouble, I will be there, even if I am no longer President, to protect you. Ako ang magsagot. If wala kang abogado, ako abogado ako, I will appear in Court for you. ‘Yan ang guarantee ko sa inyo (I will be responsible. If you don’t have a lawyer, I will be. That is my guarantee to you),” he said.

In April, Duterte admitted that he was wrong in believing that he could end the country’s illegal drug problem within three to six months.

Candidate Duterte in 2016 vowed to eradicate the problem of illegal drugs and corruption in government within three to six months.

Three months into his presidency in late 2016, he asked for a six-month extension of his self-imposed deadline to end the illegal drugs menace. —LBG, GMA News