Duterte vows to continue war against illicit drugs
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Philippine House of Representatives in Quezon City, Metro Manila, the Philippines, July 24, 2017. [Photo: Xinhua/Rouelle Umali]
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is vowing to continue the war on illegal drugs despite international pressure from some world leaders and human rights groups.
Duterte reaffirmed the pledge in his second annual State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) before Congress.
"The fight will be unremitting as it will be unrelenting. Despite international and local pressures, the fight will not stop until those who deal in it understand that they have to cease, they have to stop because the alternative are either jail or hell," he said.
The Philippine President said the drug menace "is the root cause of so much evil and so much suffering."
The crackdown on drugs is the signature campaign that has defined Duterte's presidency
Stats show that the Philippines has 1.8 million drug users and nearly half of them use methamphetamine.
During his most important annual speech, Duterte has also taken some time to defend his position on martial law on the southern island of Mindanao.
Philippine government forces have been fighting pro-Islamic State militants who swept through Marawi City earlier this year.
The fighting has so far killed more than 600 people, including nearly 100 civilians, and displaced around 500-thousand civilians.
Duterte declared a 60-day martial law in Mindanao in May and has extended the state of emergency until the end of this year.