Philippine President Duterte on Monday urged citizens to unite against the drug gangs that he said are the main drivers of violence in the country.
“It is time for a unified fight against drug gangs, but also against drug users, drug pushers, drug dealers, drug lords,” Duterte said during his weekly address to the nation.
“There are drug addicts everywhere.
It’s a problem.
There is a drug war here, a drug menace that we can all understand.
So I would urge you to unite with us.
The time has come to unite,” he said.
The Philippine president also urged the public to take up arms to fight the drug menace.
“I would say it again: Do not be a pawn of the drug cartels.
Take up arms, do not be victims, take up the fight,” he added.
Duterte’s comments came on the heels of a report by Philippine media that alleged the Philippine military was using drug-resistant T-72 tanks to wage war against drug cartels in the southern city of Davao.
The president has denied the reports and has warned that the armed forces will respond with force against the “rogue” drug gangs.
The Davao City mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, has called for his soldiers to join forces with the police and military to fight against the cartels, which he said have grown in number in the city.
The President has also called on the military to stop the killings of drug suspects and other crimes committed by drug lords, saying they are fueling the drug trade.