NOTORIOUS for his deadly war on drugs, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has warned the nation’s elite of cocaine reaching the country’s shores at a fast pace as cartels gain a stronger footing in the country.
“The rich, be on guard. Cocaine is coming in very fast. The cartels of Mexico and South America have come in,” Duterte said at an event in Tarlac City on Wednesday, as quoted by the Inquirer.
The firebrand leader said cocaine and shabu, the street name for methamphetamine, is becoming an increasing problem in the country.
Police say they have killed about 4,100 drug dealers, in shootouts, but have no ties to unidentified armed men who have killed hundreds of drug users. The government denies activists’ allegations that drug dealers and users are being systematically targeted for execution.
Duterte also denied allegations the government targeted the poor in the bloody war against narcotics while the rich narcotic kingpins were spared.
“They say, ‘Why is Duterte killing only the poor?’ They are wrong. I do not kill the poor. I am killing the poor who are criminals,” he said said in defense of the government’s approach to the war.
“’Shabu’ (crystal meth) operations were handled by an organization—not an individual—and it only happened to include people on the street who sell the drug.”
Duterte gave a speech lasting well over an hour on Wednesday, focusing heavily on justifying his anti-narcotics campaign, blasting human rights groups, according to Reuters.
“I take full legal responsibility for things that are happening, intended or not intended. I’m here to protect my country,” he said, to big applause. “I believe if I stop this crusade it would have compromised this country, and the next generation, and it would have been my failure.”
In Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, rebuked Duterte on several fronts, criticising his “vilification” of a UN special rapporteur, his instruction to police to not cooperate, and “deepening repression and increasing threats” to those with dissenting or independent views.
“This authoritarian approach to governance threatens to irreparably damage 30 years of commendable efforts by the Philippines to strengthen the rule of law and respect for the human rights,” he said.
Additional reporting by Reuters