Duterte unveils vast drug clinic

Many of the Philippines’ drug problems are rooted in poverty. Source: Wikimedia

The Philippines has unveiled plans to open what it called a “mega” drug rehabilitation centre in November, funded by a Chinese businessman, capable of treating up to 10,000 patients.

The clinic to the north of Manila has been funded by Chinese property magnate Huang Rulun, whose net worth is US$3.9 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

President Rodrigo Duterte is due to visit China next week with business leaders as he moves closer to Beijing, while criticising his traditional allies in Washington.

He has called US President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” and UN chief Ban Ki-moon a “fool” over criticism of his so-called drugs war.

Several thousand people have died at the hands of police and suspected vigilantes since Duterte took office on June 30, promising to wage a “bloody” war on drugs.

“This initiative will not only benefit these drug victims whom we want to help and reach out to, but also for the change that we envision for our country,” health secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial told the media.

The centre would be built using 75 shipping containers imported from China, announced Ubial.

Manila was planning more large treatment and rehabilitation centres elsewhere in the country and many donors, including from China, had come forward, Ubial added.

Duterte estimates that more than 3 million Filipinos are drug addicts, while criticising China for not doing enough to stop the flow of methamphetamines into the archipelago.

The authorities say around 700,000 addicts have come forward to register themselves but the country has few options for them.

The Philippines is training what will reportedly amount to 900 staff to treat the first batch of 2,500 patients.

Duterte has said he had officially invited the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard to investigate the drug killings since he took office.

“It will be open to the public,” Duterte said of any inquiry. “Ask me any question under the sun, just afford me the right to be heard.”

Callamard has said she would discuss the date and scope of her fact-finding mission, state guarantees for her freedom of movement and inquiry and assurances about the safety of mission members and anyone they interviewed.

Duterte insisted that he and his police were not doing anything illegal and that officers were forced to shoot and kill after the drug suspects put up a fight.