Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday he needed six more months for his war on drugs, saying he realized how bad the country’s narcotics problem was only after taking office over two months ago, Reuters reports.
He said there were “hundreds of thousands of people already in the drug business” now, some of them working in government.
“We would need time to put everything in order. Give me a little extension, maybe of another six months,” he said.
Early this month, Duterte said “plenty will be killed until the last pusher is out of the streets.” But on Sunday, he said “even if I wanted to, I cannot kill them all because the last report would be this thick,” referring to a new, not yet published list of mostly public officials linked to illegal drug trade.
Envoy receives freed hostages
A Norwegian and three Indonesian seamen held hostage in the southern Philippines were turned over to a government envoy on Sunday after being freed by Islamic extremists who had beheaded two captives in June, AFP reported.
Kjartan Sekkingstad and the Indonesians, who had been held by Abu Sayyaf militants, were handed over to envoy Jesus Dureza in the town of Indanan on Jolo island.
Read: Duterte hopes to wipe out Abu Sayyaf Group without US military support
The transfer took place at the heavily guarded camp of another Muslim rebel leader Nur Misuari, whose group assisted in the release, according to the government.
Sekkingstad was abducted from a high-end tourist resort which he managed on Samal island in September 2015, along with two Canadians who were later beheaded.
“Devastating, devastating,” said Sekkingstad, clutching his backpack with a bullet hole, about his life as a captive in the jungles for a year, AP reported.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who met with Sekkingstad, told him his travails were over.
Sekkingstad, newly shaved but looking gaunt in a loose polo shirt, thanked all those who worked for his freedom.
“I am very happy to be alive and free,” he said. “It’s a beautiful feeling.”