Duterte asks priests to try meth before slamming drugs war

Manila, Jan 19 (IANS) Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte called priests and bishops, who oppose his violent anti-narcotics campaign that has left more than 6,200 dead since 2016, “hypocrites” and urged them to try drugs to understand the importance of the campaign.

“The (critical) priests should take shabu (methamphetamine) to understand (the war on drugs). I recommend one or two of the bishops to take it too,” Duterte said, reported the ABS-CBN network.

He said in a speech on Wednesday that the church is aware of how grave the problem of drugs is in the country and yet they are unwilling to support it.

Several alleged drug addicts and traffickers were killed in Manila early Thursday by police or neighbourhood patrols as part of the President’s ongoing “war on drugs”, Efe news reported.

The Catholic Church has expressed strong opposition to Duterte’s extreme policy from the pulpits and through other campaigns such as protest posters in parishes.

Duterte, who was mayor of Davao, where he rose to fame for his toughness on crime and inflammatory rhetoric, criticized the hypocrisy and pretension of the Catholic Church in the Philippines.

“There’s no shabu for them, but they have wives. We’re just the same. Even the priests in Davao; each one of them has two or three wives,” said Duterte in a sarcastic tone amid laughter from the audience.

His attack on the Philippine Church comes a day after he sent a thank you letter to Pope Francis for visiting the country in January 2015.