By Genalyn Kabiling and Argyll Geducos
Around seven million to eight million Filipinos are enslaved by illegal drugs, becoming “inutil” and “lost souls” all over the country, President Duterte said over the weekend.
The President renewed his campaign promise to put an end to the illegal drug trade with all the government’s might until his term ends.
In a speech at the campaign rally of PDP-Laban in Biñan, Laguna, Saturday evening, Duterte emphasized his distaste for illegal drugs and his resolve to end the illegal drug trade.
“I’m posing this challenge. Nandito lahat ang networks eh. Tapusin na natin ito (After all, the TV networks are all here. We will finish this now). I’ll make you that solemn promise,” he said.
“Kung paabutin ako ng Diyos three years from now — may tatlong taon pa kasi ako — tatapusin ko ‘to itong… tatapusin ko talaga ito (If God gives me another three years, because I still have three years, I will really see the end of this),” he added.
Duterte advised those who have just started dealing and using drugs to get out while they still can.
“Totoo ‘yan. Kayong lahat na hindi pa naka-umpisa, kayong mga bata, lumayo kayo (Believe me. Those of you who have not started yet, especially the children, do not even try),” he said.
“Mag-ano kayo — you will… Iyong — withdrawal. Kung kaya ninyo, gawain na ninyo (Start the withdrawal process. If you can, do it now),” he added.
“There are seven to eight million Filipinos reduced to slaves to a drug called shabu. Seven to eight million lost souls. Inutil na. I-multiply mo ‘yan sa problema sa pamilya. Ang pag-aaral, pagkain [They’re useless. Multiply that with the problem in the family, education, and food],” he added.
Duterte acknowledged that former police chief Ronald del Rosa had earlier estimated there were 1.6 million shabu addicts while former Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chair Dionisio Santiago counted three million drug users. “Tama silang dalawa. Iyong counting na ‘yun, Maynila lang [They were both right but the count was only in Manila],” he said.
Duterte, in stepping up the drug war, refused to let the country deteriorate into a failed state especially amid the reported presence of two foreign drug cartels in the country.
Last November, DDB Chair Catalino Cuy reportedly estimated that about four to five million were involved in illegal drugs.
Early this week, Duterte said that his war on drugs would be “harsher” and possibly even “bloodier” in the days to come.
“I will not allow my country to be destroyed by drugs. I don’t want my country to end up as a failed state,” he said.
Duterte’s pronouncements came after the discovery of millions of pesos worth of cocaine floating in Philippine waters early this month.
According to the President, he is ready to face whatever the consequence is of his drug war.
“I’m ready for hell, but I will never, never preside over a nation that will deteriorate in my presence,” Duterte said.
Last week, the United States government also expressed support for Duterte’s drug war during the President’s meeting with members of the US-Philippines Society in Malacañang.