Two Philippine generals are “still playing” with illegal drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte revealed on Friday, as he reaffirmed his resolve to fight the narcotic trade in the country.
Duterte made the revelation before the international community during the plenary session of the Valdai forum in Sochi, Russia on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
“And right now, even as I fly here and go back, there are about again two generals who are still playing with drugs,” he told the forum attended by other world leaders, Russian officials and academicians.
“And I said, ‘Well, I told you do not destroy my country because it is being flooded with drugs,’” Duterte added.
The President, however, did not directly name the two generals, or whether they come from the military or police.
His revelation came as the Philippine National Police and its chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde, are embroiled in alleged illegal drug recycling scheme.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año was ordered by Duterte to investigate the case before leaving for Russia.
In the same forum, the President underscored the urgency of ridding the government of corruption and illegal drugs.
“I said I’m not only fighting corruption from the inside of government. I was fighting the corrupt, corruption and the trafficking of drugs even in my government. And that is why I had to do something very fast,” he said.
He then recalled that when he assumed the presidency in 2016, he found out that nine generals were involved in drug trafficking.
“You know, during the time of two presidents ago, we were told by the United States, itself, that if we do not take care, if we do not watch out, our country will be swallowed by drugs. And it came to pass with, about two presidents,” Duterte said.
“And we saw mayors, city mayors and the chairmen of the most basic unit of government, 50,000 into drugs. And when I took over, I found out about nine generals were involved in the trafficking of drugs,” he added.
Duterte defended his administration’s bloody war on drugs and slammed his critics and rights advocates.
According to the President, he was surprised when even the United Nations Human Rights Commission “heavily criticized” his policy to kill drug suspects who refuse to surrender.
“I asked the police, ‘Ask your wife and children to walk the streets at night. If they come home unmolested, unbridled by worries, not victims of mugging and crimes.’ Because there were so many addicts in the streets. And I said, ‘I want that kind of environment [that is free from drugs].’ Then I proceeded,” Duterte said.
“This I would pose to the entire community of the world. Is it wrong for a President to see, to say, rather, that: ‘Do not destroy my country especially the children because I will kill you?’ And that was my order to the Armed Forces and to the police,” he added.
Duterte has overseen a narcotics crackdown, in which police have killed more than 6,000 suspected drug offenders since he was elected President three years ago.
Rights groups, however, say the actual number of dead is at least three times higher.
The government has repeatedly denied involvement in summary executions, saying drug suspects slain in police operations had resisted arrest.