Duterte 'offended' by Santiago's criticism of drug rehab approach
MANILA, Philippines – It was indeed former Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chief Dionisio Santiago's words that got him sacked, according to President Rodrigo Duterte.
The President, on Wednesday, November 8, said he was "offended" by Santiago's criticism of the Nueva Ecija mega drug rehabilitation center and the government's general approach to rehabilitating drug addicts.
"He came up with a very incongruous statement that I was offended. He could have asked me for an audience and then tell me all about it," Duterte said in a news briefing, before departing for Vietnam to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.
The President, who supported Santiago's senatorial bid in 2016, said he was dismayed that the former DDB chief went to the media first.
"I put you there so you can tell me the problem of our country and teach me if I have any shortcomings. But you do not go to the press and start to blabber," said Duterte, responding to questions about Santiago.
He claimed Santiago's criticism were prompted by the latter's desire to ride the bandwagon of "popular" sentiment about his drug war. This, he said, is contradictory to Santiago's acts when he was Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief.
"When he was there, it was caught on TV, he was kicking people. Then you come up with this deal if you would like to echo what is popular….Kung sasakay ka lang diyan, nge (If you are just riding the bandwagon, well)!" said Duterte.
The President, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, asked Santiago to resign early this week. Santiago submitted a brief resignation letter to the Office of the President soon after.
Santiago is the second DDB chief to be axed because of his remarks. His predecessor, Benjamin Reyes, was fired for sticking to the DDB survey figure of 1.8 million drug addicts in the Philippines. Duterte said this contradicted his administration's figure of 4 million drug addicts. – Rappler.com
We keep you informed because you matter
We tell you the stories that matter. We ask, we probe, we explain.
But as we strive to do all this and speak truth to power, we face constant threats to our independence.
Help us make a difference through free and fearless journalism. With your help, you enable us to keep providing you with our brand of compelling and investigative work.
Joining Rappler PLUS allows us to build communities of action with you. PLUS members will receive our editorial newsletters and industry reports, get to join exclusive online conversations with our award-winning journalists, and be part of our monthly events.
Make your move now. Join Rappler PLUS.