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‘It has to be a war’: Duterte won’t apologise for drug crackdown

THE STAR – Even at the tail end of his term, President Rodrigo Duterte offers no apologies for his highly criticised drug war.

“We continue to suffer from the drug problem. This will not end due to the lure of billions that businessmen, traffickers and drug lords get,” he said during his Talk to the People aired yesterday.

“Before, I said the market is worth millions, now it’s billions…It has to be a war. This is not a special operation of the police or the military. It cannot be because this thing is a very sinister and virulent activity that would affect the life of the nation. This is hard,” he added.

“I would say and I would insist (until the) tail end of the administration that what I did was right. I will not back down. No apologies. For me, what I did was right,” Duterte went on.

The drug war, which Duterte launched when he assumed power in 2016, has been highly criticised both domestically and globally.

Phillipine President Rodrigo Duterte. PHOTO: THE STAR

Last year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber allowed the Office of the Prosecutor to do a full-blown investigation into the crimes against humanity cases filed against Duterte in connection with drug war killings. Duterte had earlier said he would be ready to face charges against him – including those filed against him before the ICC – once he steps down from power.

Meanwhile, Duterte called on local officials not to get involved with the illegal drug trade so as not to “violate” the trust of those who voted for them.

“I hope that you do not get involved – I will not make a warning since I am stepping down – my appeal to mayors, governors, all of the officials, especially those elected by the people,” he said.

“Do not violate the trust the people has reposed on us, especially when it comes to drugs,” he added.

He also reiterated his call for his successor to continue his anti-illegal drug campaign.