Duterte hails the drug war in the Philippines, but acknowledges that there is still a long way to go.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte praised his flagship drug-war policies on Monday, but acknowledged that the controversial operation, which has killed thousands of people, still has a long way to go.
Duterte repeatedly went off script and failed to follow the autocue during his final State of the Nation address before stepping down next year, ranting for over three hours against communists, child abusers, and corrupt officials.
Duterte used his yearly speech to brag about the government’s accomplishments over the previous five years, especially its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected over 1.5 million people and wreaked havoc on the economy.
However, the 76-year-old strongman devoted substantial portions of his rambling speech to his “unyielding” anti-narcotics campaign, which has claimed the lives of over 6,000 people.
The number is estimated to be in the tens of thousands, according to rights groups, and prosecutors from the International Criminal Court are investigating the campaign.
Duterte supported the crackdown, claiming that it has resulted in the surrender of millions of drug addicts as well as the neutralization, capture, and prosecution of thousands of drug personalities.
He also emphasized that the fight was far from over.
“While we have achieved enormous progress in eradicating insurrection and insurgency in many regions of the country,” Duterte told the gathering of lawmakers, diplomats, and judges, “we still have a long way to go in our war against the proliferation of drugs.”
Duterte also threatened to “kill” people and stated “the ICC can record it,” as he has done many times during his presidency.
“I will kill those who destroy my country. And those who damage our country’s youth, I will kill you,” he declared.
It was the populist leader’s sixth and final State of the Nation address, as he is not eligible to run for re-election next year. He has hinted at a run for the vice presidency.
Thousands of protesters marched down a major thoroughfare hours before the address, calling for Duterte’s administration to be “ended.”
Thousands of police officers, including anti-riot cops, were deployed to keep the march under control and prevent demonstrators from approaching the Capitol.
Key worries included the drug war, the epidemic, and the potential of the president’s daughter succeeding him next year.
“We have seen how the Duterte administration has run the country in the last five years, where there has been starvation, deaths, killings, injustice, and tyranny,” political satirist Mae Paner said.
“It has to come to an end right now.”
In the pandemic, Maristela Abenojar, a nurse wearing a white PPE suit, said health professionals were regarded as “sacrificial lambs.”
“A lot of them. Brief News from Washington Newsday.