MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. struck back on Monday at his firebrand predecessor Rodrigo Duterte who called him a “drug addict”, saying the former leader’s fentanyl use could have affected his judgment.
“I think it’s the fentanyl,” Marcos told reporters shortly before leaving for Vietnam in response to claims made by Duterte on Sunday while speaking at a rally in his hometown Davao against moves to amend the country’s constitution.
When asked about the drug use accusations and the call for him to step down, Marcos said, the former president “has been taking the drug for a very long time now…after five, six years, it has to affect him.”
In 2016, Duterte admitted he used to take the highly addictive synthetic opioid fentanyl for pain relief after a motorcyle accident.
“I hope his doctors take better care of him,” said Marcos.
Duterte also said Marcos was included in the drug agency’s so called ‘narco-list’ that was submitted to him when he was still mayor of Davao city, a charge which the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency vehemently denied.
Duterte’s accusations came after his son, who is the incumbent mayor of Davao, called on Marcos to resign, citing his supposed failings to address criminality and a foreign policy that “endangers the lives of innocent Filipinos”.
Former president Duterte has earned international rebuke for unleashing a brutal campaign against illegal drugs when he assumed power in 2016, killing more 6,000 dealers whom police said resisted arrest during anti-drug operations.
The International Criminal Court has allowed an investigation into the killings to resume, but Marcos said his government will not cooperate.
(Reporting by Mikhail Flores; Editing by Michael Perry)