Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, has promised to continue what he himself referred to as a “relentless and chilling” war on drugs in his country. He also dismissed criticism of his brutal crackdown, which has reportedly resulted in the deaths of thousands of people on suspected drug charges.
Here's what you need to know
During his 50-minute annual address to the nation, Duterte announced that his war on drugs was “far from over,” adding “it will be as relentless and chilling, if you will, as on the day it began.”
If you think that I can be dissuaded from continuing this fight because of demonstrations, your protests which I find misdirected, then you got it all wrong.
Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives.
Defending his intense drug war, Duterte said:
Where before the war resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs worth millions of pesos, today they run into billions in peso value.
Duterte's critics have heard this kind of talk before. One Philippine senator said that his speech was “like watching and listening to a bad movie rerun.”
Thousands of people protested during the speech.
What war on drugs?
Duterte came to power on June 30, 2016. Since then, he has led a campaign to end drug abuse in the nation by orchestrating a brutal crackdown by law enforcement that has resulted in the extrajudicial killing of thousands of suspects.
His own government doesn't deny these killings.
Oscar Albayalde, Metro Manila's police chief, told Reuters: “There are thousands of people who are being killed, yes. But there are millions who live, see?”
According to official numbers from the Philippine National Police, between July 2016 and January 2017, the first six months of Duterte's term, more than 7,025 suspects had been killed.
Duterte also announced that he would approve a new law within two days that would grant some self-rule to Muslims in the Philippines. The Islamic State has been taking advantage of the tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in the country, and Duterte and his government believe that a deal like this could help to undermine ISIS's foothold.