Illegal drug trade 'almost paralyzed,' Duterte says

Almost a year left in his six-year term, President Duterte is trumpeting the government's accomplishments in the controversial war on illegal drugs.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on April 19, 2021. KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

According to the President, the illegal drug trade in the country has been reduced due to the government's intensified crackdown, including its improved intelligence network.

"We have seen a lessening of the drugs actually in the Philippines," Duterte said during a television interview with religious leader Apollo Quiboloy Tuesday, June 8.

"Dito sa Davao wala na, eh tingi-tingi. But sa ibang lugar mayroon Maynila (In Davao, there's none, maybe a handful but in places like Manila, there still is) but they are almost paralyzed because we have a better intelligence now and it’s working," he added.

Duterte admitted that when he ran for president in 2016, he had promised to end the illegal drug trade in the country. He however realized later that the drug problem was grave as it alleged involved some police generals and other government officials.

"Noon sabi ko I will end the problem of drugs in Manila or in the Philippines, I did not know, Pastor, that about six police generals were into drugs, either sila mismo or protecting the drug people," he told Quiboloy.

"I did not know that I was fighting my own government. I was fighting corruption in sa Customs at kung saan-saan (and elsewhere)," he added.

Duterte said he "took care" of these drug-linked police generals, who he claimed were "out, almost retired." Some mayors implicated in the illegal drug trade, he said, also ended up dead.

The country could have deteriorated into a narco-state if these officials allegedly involved in the drug trade were not held accountable, according to the President.

"Sabi ko nga (As I said) you do not monopolize evil in this world. Kung hindi ko talaga (If I did not do it) --- we would have been closing --- closing in as a narco-state kagaya ng (like) Medellin," Duterte said.

The President also renewed his threat to kill those involved in the illegal drug activities, saying he would not allow them to destroy the nation. He said he was ready to dispense “evil" just to fight off “evil” drug dealers.

"You deal with drugs, you destroy my country, I will kill you. I do not mince my words when I said I will kill you," Duterte said.

"And when you do drugs, sell it to our daughters, to our young boys and you destroy their lives, I will kill you," he said.

Duterte, the tough-talking former mayor of Davao City, launched a bloody war on illegal drugs at the start of his term. His anti-drug campaign however drew criticisms from rights advocates here and abroad for alleged extrajudicial killings and other abuses supposedly committed by government security forces.

The President has strongly defended his government's drug war, saying he was mandated to serve and protect the Filipino nation. He likewise dismissed criticisms from human rights groups as well as threats to drag him to court over alleged rights violations, saying he was prepared to go to jail.