CATARMAN, CAMIGUIN – There are now three million drug addicts in the Philippines.
There was deafening silence when Mayor Rodrigo Duterte made this revelation during a federalism forum in Barangay Borbon, Catarman Sunday afternoon.
“If you have three million addicts, it means that you have at least 30,000 drug pushers,” Duterte told his stunned audience in Cebuano.
The mayor added that considering this number, it will have to be bloody to win the war.
He did not reveal the source of his information but it is widely known that Duterte keeps a close tab on developments not only in the worsening drug situation but all forms of criminality.
Duterte is passionate in his concern over the proliferation of illegal drugs which is one of the main points he raises in all his speaking engagements
.When asked for his reaction to the last state of the nation address of Pres. Benigno Aquino III, Duterte lamented that there was no mention of the problem of illegal drugs.
“I supposed he was not given the information about the drug problem. It was only a month ago that the Manila Police revealed that nine out of 10 youth are influenced by drugs. That is dangerous, it involves national security,” the mayor said in his reaction.
Duterte has pointed to the enormity of the drug problem as one of the reasons why he is hedging on a presidential bid.
The tough-talking mayor does not mince words when it comes to drugs.
“I told you, when you come to my city and sell drugs, I will really kill you,” he told his audience of local officials, teachers and ordinary folk inside the covered court in Bonbon.
It was not the first time he issued the warning. It won’t be the last.
The deafening applause that followed his normally chilly warning affirms the widespread fear gripping most Filipinos over the drug problem.
Duterte lamented that his response to the the problem is instead given more importance by the administration particularly Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
“Unya, kana bitawng asawa ni Samson, ako na nuoy gigukod (And yet, the wife of Samson is going after me instead),” Duterte followed up, drawing laughter from a few who caught up his reference to de Lima through the bibilcal Samson.
At the end of his speech, Duterte was virtually mobbed by his audience, many of whom had earlier lined up to have their pictures taken with his standie as a souvenir.
When he strode into the venue after a four-hour delay due to mechanical hitches in the private plane that took him from Cagayan to Mambajao and back, the public address system was drowned out by the shouts and applause of the welcoming throng.
Duterte’s unequivocal stance – and success – against illegal drugs has made him stand head and shoulder above the rest of the field in next year’s presidential polls.
While Duterte continues to profess disinterest in the presidency, it is clear it is only a matter of time before the roof caves in.
The call of the time for desperate measures – which only Duterte is capable of at this time – will be too much for him to resist. (CHITO A. FUENTES)