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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – As the Philippines celebrates its 120th Independence Day, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the country should focus on the “real” problem of illegal drugs.
Sotto said this when asked by Rappler for his Independence Day message on Tuesday, June 12.
“Drug dependency is the real scourge of our country. That is what we should work for, independence from drugs!” Sotto said in a text message.
The Senate leader said there is no need to worry about the reported growing aggression from China and the economy, as the “real enemy” of the country is drug dependency of Filipinos.
“Some are worried about China, about the economy, when the real enemy is drug dependency. There is one or at least affected by one in every Filipino Family,” Sotto said.
In a separate message, Sotto also said Philippine independence “has never been stronger.”
“Now that globalization is in full swing and we are friendly with other trading global partners, change is inevitable. Philippine independence has never been stronger. Our people’s pride and love for country has never waned and we take the last line of our national anthem to heart!” he said.
Sotto, a staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte and his drug war, has been a longtime advocate against illegal drugs. He authored the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and headed the Dangerous Drugs Board in 2008.
Duterte’s bloody war on drugs has received local and international criticism, following the deaths of thousands of drug suspects since he took office in 2016. (IN NUMBERS: The Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’)
Sotto’s statement comes amid reports of a Chinese military aircraft’s landing in Davao City, which some have criticized, as the Philippines and China remain embroiled in a dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). (READ: Lacson questions landing of China plane in PH: ‘We might wake up a colony’)
The most recently reported incident between the two countries involves the China Coast Guard taking the catch of Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal. (READ: To prove fruits of PH-China ‘friendship,’ Roque brings fishermen to press briefing)
Many Filipinos have also complained about high prices of goods, blaming it on the first package of the tax reform law that increased prices on oil and fuel. Sotto earlier said the Senate would look into the issue. He also said they would not suspend the whole law, just its “excessive” provisions. – Rappler.com