(Adds details on the number of drug suspects killed and those who have surrendered to authorities)
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday vowed that there would be no letup in his war against illegal drugs and criminality, calling on authorities to double if not triple their efforts.
“We will not stop until the last drug lord, financier and pusher have surrendered or put behind bars, or below the ground if that is what they want,” Duterte said in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Addressing criticisms over mounting vigilante deaths amid the administration’s anti-drug campaign, Duterte urged human rights advocates to work to uplift human dignity, rather than use human rights “as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country.”
“I am willing to put at stake my honor, my life and the presidency itself,” he said.
To accommodate the rising number of drug suspects who have surrendered to authorities, Duterte ordered the military to open its facilities for rehabilitation efforts.
Latest figures from the Philippine National Police showed that 239 drug suspects have been killed in police anti-drug operations as of July 22, while a total of 120,038 drug suspects have surrendered to authorities.
The number of deaths exceeds 300 if vigilante killings are included, based on independent counts by media organizations. FELIPE F. SALVOSA II