EVEN AS he reiterated his vow to crush illegal drug syndicates, President Rodrigo Duterte denounced extrajudicial killings and said he would put it “under control.”
“We cannot build a nation over the dead bodies of our own citizens. I’ll have to control [it],” the President said in a speech during oath-taking ceremonies for officials of the League of Cities of the Philippines and League of Provinces of the Philippines Wednesday night.
The death toll in the war against drugs has hit 667 since the President’s election victory on May 10, based on an independent tally by ABS-CBN News.
Police operations have killed 429 people while unidentified gunmen have killed 182. Fifty-six were identified as victims of vigilante killings.
Duterte told local government executives on Wednesday night he had become the “whipping boy” for the casualties, but argued that the drug problem had reached crisis proportions.
“It’s a drug crisis. 170,000 surrenderees. Is that a police problem? The police cannot solve it,” he said, referring to drug suspects who had turned themselves in to authorities.
Military camps will be used as drug rehabilitation centers as a stopgap measure, until more rehabilitation centers are built, Duterte said.
“The military has large reservations. It’s going to be barracks style for those who are recalcitrant,” he added.