AMID the "vicious and non-stop" criticisms hurled against President Rodrigo Duterte's crackdown on illegal drugs, Malacañang said Monday, March 26, that drug lords are taking advantage of the human rights groups opposing the crackdown.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. hinted that human rights groups against Duterte's drug war may have been used as "unwitting tools" of drug syndicates.

Roque claimed that drug lords are exhausting all efforts, such as using their "drug money," to thwart the progress made by the President in curbing the drug menace.

"The attacks against the President’s war on drugs have been vicious and non-stop. We therefore do not discount the possibility that some human rights groups have become unwitting tools of drug lords to hinder the strides made by the administration," he said.

"To continue to do and thrive in the drug business, these drug lords can easily use their drug money to fund destabilization efforts against the government," the presidential spokesman added.

Roque issued the remark after Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said some non-government organizations were being unwittingly used by drug lords to undermine the government's campaign against the rampant narcotics trade.

Roque said it was likely possible that drug lords are looking for ways to weaken the Duterte administration's efforts since they are losing billions of pesos.

"Illegal drug trade is a multi-billion-peso industry and billions have been lost with the voluntary surrender of more than a million drug users, arrest of tens of thousands of drug personalities, and seizure of billion-peso clandestine drug laboratories and factories," he said.

Duterte's war on illegal drugs is heavily criticized locally and internationally because of the alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects.

In a speech on March 23, Duterte strongly reiterated that he would not allow illegal drugs to ruin the country.

"Who is the president who will be crazy enough to allow that (illegal drugs trade)?" the President said. "Don't ever enter the drug trade because we will really have a problem. That's it," he added. (SunStar Philippines)