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The Philippines is not about to wage war with China despite being the lair of drug lords behind the illegal trade in the country, President Duterte said last Thursday.
For the first time, the President identified China as the hideaway of the “big fish” behind smuggling illegal drugs into the country but insisted on addressing the problem through dialogue.
“Where is the big fish? Gusto mo, punta ka ng China. Doon hanapin ninyo,” the President said during a visit to a military camp last Thursday, amid criticisms the government was supposedly only targeting the poor in the anti-drug crackdown.
“We cannot go there to just declare war. Hindi naman sinabi takot ha but it is not the correct move. We do not go into a violence fight as war now because simply it’s not correct. We have to maintain the integrity of this Republic,” he added.
Duterte asserted that he intends to confront China over the drug problem once the maritime conflict is settled. He admitted he was supposed to talk to the Chinese ambassador but was preempted by news reports about his plan.
The President has defended anew the government’s anti-drugs campaign after drawing criticisms only poor drug suspects were being neutralized.
He explained anew that the drug lords operating outside the country have been using modern technology with a digital map to locate where to drop off the drugs. He said drug suspects being arrested in the country were just lieutenants.
With the drug problem now a “crisis,” the President called on the police and military to “destroy” the criminals behind the menace. He assured them the government will raise their salary and provide additional equipment so they can do their jobs better.
Last week, the Chinese Embassy in Manila assured that Beijing is ready to cooperate with the Philippine government’s campaign against illegal drug trade.
Duterte earlier expressed dismay at the alleged involvement of Chinese nations in drug operations in the country, saying he would soon ask China about the matter. Duterte claimed that many Chinese visitors were into drugs even inside jail.