Iloilo City, Iloilo: People on the streets, taxi drivers, civic leaders and local politicians claim the Philippines needed a strong leader like Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte, who could solve the drug problem In the country.
They said drug abuse has become a serious problem in Iloilo and almost every Ilonggo in the towns and cities knew at least two suspected big-time dealers operating in the area.
“Almost every city resident knows who these drug dealers are. It seems the only ones who do not know them are the anti-drugs officials,” said radio broadcaster Joeceel Bañas of Aksyon Radyo, a media outlet which has been in the forefront of the campaign against drugs in the city.
Local officials who refused to be identified said the suspected drug dealers have lately been seen in the company of known political personalities, fanning fear that narco-politics have a foothold in the area.
During his one day visit to Iloilo which included a forum on Federalism in Janiuay, Iloilo and in the West Visayas State University in Iloilo City, Mayor Duterte was confronted with questions on how he handled the drugs problem in Davao, which was considered one of the safest cities in the world with a crime rate lower than all the other major cities in the country combined.
“I don’t like people involved in drugs. I don’t care if they are soldiers or policemen. I tell them that drug dealers and criminals in my city have only two destinations – the jail or the funeral parlors,” said Duterte, whose tough campaign against drugs and criminality has made him a “person of interest” by human rights groups.
Addressing students in the WVSU Federalism Forum, the Davao City Mayor said six months of drugs use, especially “shabu,” will cause irreparable brain damage.
“There is no such thing as a successful rehabilitation (for a drug addict). Once you lose a child to drugs, you lose him forever,’ Duterte said.
An Iloilo town mayor who asked not to be identified said: “What we need is a leader like Duterte.”
The 69-year-old Duterte, Mayor of Davao for 22 years, is visiting key areas all over the country in an advocacy for Federalism.