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Duterte: 'I will kill more to get rid of drugs'

MANILA, Philippines – Unfazed by criticism over the rising death toll in his war on drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, February 2, vowed to "kill more" drug suspects, if needed, to rid the country of the illicit trade.

Duterte made the statement in a speech at the National Convention of Water Districts in Davao City on Thursday, as he promised that there would be no let-up in his war against drugs despite some changes in the government strategy.

"You bleed for those son of a bitch? How many? 3,000? I will kill more, if only to get rid of drugs," he said.

More than 7,000 people have been killed since the Duterte administration waged its war on drugs. On Wednesday, February 1, Amnesty International  released a report that alleged that some Philippine policemen were paid to gun down drug suspects.

After stripping the Philippine National Police (PNP) of the power to enforce his "drug war," the President said on Thursday that he will do the same with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

 "As of now, there are no policeman in the entire country – and I want to add, even the NBI, the bureau is even suspended from enforcing drug laws," he said.

The President has lost trust in the bureau, primarily tasked with probing crimes. (READ: NBI reshuffles officials over Jee Ick Joo case)

"Nawalan ako ng tiwala sa inyo (I've lost my trust in you)," he said.

The President said in his speech that only the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and military can implement the drug war.

"Only the PDEA, which is being headed by Sid Lapeña, who used to be my COP (Chief of Police) also, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines," he said.

The NBI, though primarily an investigative body, can make arrests and participate in anti-drug operations in coordination with PDEA.

With the PDEA and military in charge of the drug war, the PNP and NBI should focus on "cleansing" its ranks of corrupt personnel.

"In the meantime, there will be a purge inside Camp Crame, and the NBI," said Duterte.

He also said he agreed with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that the Chief Executive should first issue a written order to officially call on the assistance of the military in the campaign against illegal drugs.

"I still have to write the proclamation, executive order, but I've taken in the AFP and raised the issue of drugs as a national security threat so that they can call all armed forces to assist," said Duterte.

The President was prompted to hand over the reins of the drug war to the military after several policemen under the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group were implicated in the murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo in Camp Crame.  – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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