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Duterte says war vs drugs won't stop

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) before the joint session of the 17th Congress Monday, July 25, 2016, at suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines - The crackdown on illegal drugs won’t stop until the last drug personality is punished, President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday as he stressed that human rights should not be used to protect wrongdoers.

During his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte also called on law enforcers to intensify their efforts against narcotics and criminality, assuring them of protection in case they face charges for doing their duty.

"There will be no let-up in this campaign.  Double your efforts. Triple them, if need be. We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars or below the ground if they so wish," the president said.

“To our police officers and other officials, do your job and you will have the unwavering support of the Office of the President. I will be with you all the way. Abuse your authority and there will be hell to pay,” he added.

Duterte, whose anti-drug campaign has been linked to the recent spate of killings of suspected drug personalities, said he is ready to stake his honor, his life and the presidency for the quest.

“Human rights must work to uplift human dignity. But human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country --- your country and my country,” he added.

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Duterte, who promised to suppress crime and drugs within six months, said he is ready to kill anyone who destroys the youth and the country with illegal drugs. He also vowed to wage a “bloody” and “ruthless” campaign against the narcotics trade, alarming human rights advocates who are worried that it could lead to extralegal killings.

Latest police data showed that 239 drug suspects were killed in law enforcement operations as of July 22. A total of 120,038 drug pushers and users, meanwhile, have surrendered to authorities.

Duterte called on the police, village chiefs and local executives not to lower their guard in their anti-narcotics drive. He also ordered the National Police Commission to hasten the conduct of investigation and adjudication of administrative cases against police officers involved in criminal and illegal activities.

“The DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) is also directed to strictly monitor how LGUs (local government units) perform their supervision functions of the police and those found not performing will be sanctioned including the loss of police deputation from the NAPOLCOM,” the president said.  

“Let me repeat my warning to all: Do not do drugs because you will be the solution to the drug crisis that has engulfed the nation,” he added.

Duterte said he would form an interagency committee on illegal drugs that would “integrate efforts and strengthen the partnership of all stakeholders.”

“The reservists will be mobilized for information campaign against drug use and the dissemination of information regarding drug rehabilitation programs being offered by the government,” the president said.  

“We will also prioritize the rehabilitation of drug users.  We will increase the number of residential treatment and rehabilitation facilities in all regions of the country,” he added.

The military was also tasked to prepare the use military camps and facilities for drug rehabilitation.

“There can never be real, tangible and felt development without making our people feel secure and it is our duty to uplift the people’s welfare,” Duterte said. 

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