MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked for one more year to end the country’s drug problem, 18 months after he launched a violent crackdown on the narcotics trade which has left 7,000 people dead.
“As far as drugs are concerned, I hope to end the problem, maybe, just give me another year,” said Duterte in a televised speech during the oath-taking ceremony of government officials in Manila.
Duterte reiterated, in defense of his campaign, that his position has forced him to “protect the Filipino people and guarantee the security of the Republic of the Philippines.”
“I don’t care about the story of extrajudicial killing. It will happen. It cannot happen. I don’t care,” Duterte said of the deaths of suspects at the hands of police or individuals under the auspices of the anti-drug campaign that has been severely criticized by human rights organizations.
Duterte, who took office on June 30, 2016, promised during his election campaign to put an end to crime and drugs within three to six months.
He then extended the deadline to the end of his six-year mandate, admitting that he had underestimated the volume of crime in the country.
More than 3,900 alleged drug addicts and traffickers have died in police operations in the last 17 months, although the total number of deaths is estimated to be greater than 7,000 when taking into account those killings attributed to vigilantes and neighborhood patrols.
Duterte on Tuesday ordered the Philippine National Police to rejoin the campaign following nearly two months of training after a series of scandals involving deaths of civilians at the hands of police.