Duterte wants another 6 months to end drug menace

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
MANILA, Philippines — Shocked by the extent of the drug problem in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday asked for six more months to put an end to the drug menace and criminality, setting aside a promise that helped him achieve an overwhelming victory in the 2016 polls.
Duterte, who vowed to end drugs and crime within the first six months of his presidency, said he did not expect the drug problem to be that serious so more time is needed “to put everything in order.”
“Just give me little extension of maybe another six months. I did not have any idea that there were hundreds of thousands already in the drug business,” Duterte said in a press conference in Davao City Sunday night.  
“What makes it worse is they are operated now by people in the government,” he added.
Duterte, whose tough stance on crime enabled him to win by a landslide with 16.6 million votes, said his administration is trying its best to address kidnapping, terrorism, drugs and other security concerns.
“That self-imposed time of three to six months, I did not realize how severe the problem of the drug menace in this republic until I became president,” the tough-talking Philippine leader said.
“When I started to press everybody, it’s like worm out of the can. Nobody would believe there are about 700,000 new guys in the drug business who surrendered to the police and military,” he added.
Duterte has said that the new list of government workers with alleged links to narcotics is “thick” and contains about 1,000 names.
“The problem is I can’t kill them all,” the president said.
“Even if I wanted to, I can’t kill them all because the last report would be this thick.”
Duterte said prominent in the list are barangay or village chiefs who are conniving with or extending assistance to terrorists and drug lords. The prevalence of village officials with connections to illegal drugs, he added, is the main reason why he is in favor of postponing the barangay polls.
“We have narco-politicians in the lowest government unit, which is the barangay. That will be the start of maybe our perdition and agony,” the president said.  
“I received reports from the military, police and the validation of PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency). The list is there before me about two months ago but I ordered revalidation just to make sure,” he added.
Duterte said policemen are no longer allowed to serve as bodyguards of barangay captains to “defang” village officials who are into illegal drugs.
“If you’re afraid of being killed in rural areas with NPAs (New People’s Army), don’t run for public office. Find another occupation,” he said.
Officials said there are about 3.7 million drug addicts in the Philippines, a figure that they said reflects a problem of “epidemic proportions.”
To address the problem, Duterte declared a brutal war against drugs, a campaign that has so far claimed the lives of about 3,000 suspected drug offenders.

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