President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte (Source: AFP/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte vowed during his annual State of the Nation address on July 23 to pursue his war on drugs, saying it would be as “relentless and chilling” as before.

Police have killed more than 4,500 suspected drugs dealers and users since Duterte came to power two years ago, with several thousand more murdered by unknown gunmen whom authorities have described as vigilantes or rival gang members.

Police have denied allegations by rights groups and critics of the campaign that some of the killings were summary executions, saying they had to use force when armed suspects had violently resisted arrest.

This is Duterte’s third national address since he took office in June 2016. –VNA