MANILA -- The national government's crackdown on illegal drugs is not a failure, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday.
The President said it was "stupid" to claim that his anti-narcotics campaign is a failure, stressing that his fight against illicit drug sale is a "never-ending war."
"Anong palpak? Kailan naging palpak? Kayo ang palpak (What do you mean failure? When did it become a failure? The failure is you)," Duterte said in an exclusive interview with CNN.
"All stupid remarks coming out from an empty head. Anong palpak (How does it become a failure)? The war on drugs is a continuing one in all countries, even in America. You know that. Do not pretend. If you are not stupid, do not pretend to be stupid. Alam ninyo iyan (You know that). It is a never-ending war," he said.
The President issued the statement, amid criticisms hurled against his administration's fight against narcotics trade by his critics, including Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo who earlier claimed that the drug war is "obviously not working."
Duterte, piqued by Robredo's remarks, was prompted to tap the Vice President as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) to give her an opportunity to help the government stop the drug proliferation.
Robredo was appointed as ICAD co-chair on October 31 but was fired on November 24 due to her supposed failure to present anti-narcotics measures.
The President said he had appointed Robredo in "good faith," but the latter opted to use her position as anti-drug czar for "grandstanding."
"It was all in good faith. Sabi ko kasi, ganito 'yun, kung ganoon ang pagtingin mo sa pag-padala sa amin sa gobyerno, eh 'di sumali ka na lang (I said just join the government if you think their government fails to deliver its promises). Join us, I'm giving you the position so that you will know," he said.
"Alam mo ano ka eh, hindi kita maintindihan (I cannot understand you). You are there grandstanding pero hinayaan kita (but I let you do that). Tapos (But) you keep on taunting me, 'I will continue, I will fight even if it will put so many roadblocks so that I will not succeed,'" he added.
The Chief Executive said he had to fire Robredo because he could no longer stomach her "stupidity" for criticizing the government despite being appointed as anti-drug czar.
"Kung mag-salita ka ng ganoon nandiyan ka tapos 'yun pala ang tingin mo sa akin, luko luko ka pala eh. Eh di paalisin na lang kita (You talk that way and think of me that way while you are there at ICAD. You are stupid so I fired you)," he said.
No new drug czar
Following Robredo's dismissal from service, Duterte said he was no longer keen to scout for an ICAD co-chair. Presently, the anti-drug body is still chaired by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino.
"Nadala na ako. Hindi na ako mag-ano ng anti-drug czar. Huwag na iyang czar, czar (I have had enough. I would no longer appoint anti-drug czar. There is no need for new drug czar)," he said.
ICAD, created through Executive Order 15 signed on March 6, 2017, is mandated to ensure the member-agencies' implementation of and compliance with all policies, laws, and issuances on the government's anti-illegal drug campaign, in an "integrated and synchronized manner."
The ICAD members are the Dangerous Drugs Board; the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Philippine Information Agency, the Public Attorney's Office; the Office of the Solicitor General; the Philippine Coast Guard; the PNP; the NBI; the Armed Forces of the Philippines; and the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
Other members of the ICAD are the Departments of the Interior and Local Government, Justice, Health, Education, Social Welfare, Trade, Agriculture, and Defense, as well as the Customs and Immigration bureaus.
The President maintained that the drug war will remain relentless, as he acknowledged that there are still some narco-politicians who are in connivance with drug syndicates operating in the country.
"I did not know, when I arrive, when I got to look into the records sa (with regard to) drug cases, then I realize that I was fighting against my own government because the police, the Customs and everybody else was dipping their dirty fingers into it," he said.
Source: Philippines News Agency