President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night asserted the need for the police and the military to be among those on the priority list for the country’s Covid-19 vaccination program, saying he needed state forces to remain healthy so they would remain functional.

“I need a healthy military and police kasi ‘pag magkasakit lahat ‘yan, wala na akong maasahan, wala na tayong mautusan kung gawin ‘to, gawin doon,” he said in a televised address.

Duterte appealed for the public’s understanding as he narrated how state forces attended to the Luzon flooding brought about by recent typhoons.

“Lahat na pumupunta na doon, pulis. And then they have to take care of the law and order situation… So huwag na ninyong pahirapan masyado ‘yung pulis,” he said.

‘Military needed in fight vs drugs’

Duterte also underscored the need for military involvement in the country’s battle against illegal drugs, which he said was an issue of national security.

“There is a declaration by me, based on a proclamation also of President [Gloria] Arroyo before, raising the issue of drugs to a national security matter. That is why kasali na ang military diyan because if you — it is a national security, it is now the state — the welfare of the state that’s at stake. That it was — that’s why hindi lang ito trabaho ng mga pulis, eh national security e,” he said.

Duterte also urged the armed forces to “not be afraid to kill.”

“Huwag kayong matakot, akin ‘yan. As I have said before, ‘yung mga issues sa human rights, that is mine and mine alone. Huwag kayong matakot pumatay. Hayaan mo ‘yang human rights basta you do it in accordance with law. Again, about the only time that you are allowed to kill is when your life is in danger. I have said that so many times, I’m saying it again tonight,” he said.

Duterte said some 200 to 300 drug suspects were being arrested every day. “That is how pernicious drugs are in the Philippines,” he said.

He also told human rights activists to not tinker with the Philippines’ drug problem.

According to data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s monitoring platform #RealNumbersPH, 5,903 individuals have died during anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2020. John Ezekiel J. Hirro