PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to sustain the momentum of his war on drugs, telling the nation in an annual address that the fight would be as “relentless and chilling” as during his first two years in power.
Duterte told a joint session of Congress the anti-narcotics campaign was “far from over,” taking a swipe at activists and political opponents who seek to bring him to book for thousands of killings.
In his 50-minute speech, which unlike his two previous addresses he read in full, Duterte reiterated that his foreign policy would not ally with any one power, but that ties with historic foe China had been “re-energized,” bringing unprecedented cooperation in the battle on transnational crime and dismantling clandestine drug laboratories.
Duterte also asked Congress to pass a law to give proper labor contracts to millions of people in short-term employment, to protect the environment and grant the Muslim minority the right to self-rule.
Thousands of women, students, left-wing activists, and church-based groups gathered outside Congress to denounce what they said were Duterte’s anti-poor policies and widespread human rights abuses.