Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao in southern Philippines September 18, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he needs six more months for his ongoing war on drugs, which has led to the death of hundreds since he took office.
Speaking to reporters in the southern city of Davao, Duterte said there are too many people involved in the narcotic trade and that he "cannot kill them all."
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.
Duterte said he did not realize the severity of the problem until he became president over two months ago.
Duterte, a former crime-busting mayor of Davao, won the presidency in May, promising to suppress crime and wipe out drugs and drug dealers in three to six months.
More than 3,500 people - or about 47 per day - have been killed in the past 10 weeks in connection with the illegal drugs trade, nearly two thirds by unknown assailants and the rest in legitimate police operations, according to local police.
Early this month, Duterte said “plenty will be killed until the last pusher is out of the streets.”
Civil rights campaigners have criticized police operations amid concerns that some of the dead suspects may have been summarily executed by the law enforcement officers.
Human Rights Watch said the nation needs an “independent” investigation into whether Duterte has had a role in extrajudicial killings.
Duterte has dismissed criticism of his drug crackdown, threatening to pull the Philippines out of the United Nations.
Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa told the senate committee investigating the killings there was no kill order, but people support the drug crackdown despite errors in judgment by police.
“We are only human... We admit we make mistakes, we are not perfect,” he said.

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