Rodrigo Duterte’s main political platform is his war on drugs, however, the President admitted last December that he had been abusing the opioid fentanyl, a highly potent and addictive drug that is estimated to be up to 100 times stronger than morphine. He began using fentanyl to treat back pain and migraines because of a spinal injury from previous motorcycle accidents.
The controversial issue behind Duterte’s use of the drug is that he confessed that his doctor made him stop using it upon learning that he was abusing the drug. His doctor prescribed a quarter of a fentanyl skin patch, but he began using an entire patch at a time. When his doctor discovered that, he immediately ordered him to quit.
“He said: ‘Stop it. The first thing that you would lose is your cognitive ability,’” the president recounted. “’You are, you know, abusing the drug.’”
Senator Antonio Trillanes, another one of Duterte’s critics, said that the President’s confession that he took more than the prescribed fentanyl dosage illustrates that he “qualifies as a drug addict”. In addition to that, lawmakers have been urging Duterte to undergo a medical examination and disclose the results.
Duterte has not stated publicly when he started using fentanyl or whether or not he has stopped using the drug, but in December, he denied being addicted. Martin Andanar, Duterte’s communications Director, said that Duterte had stopped using fentanyl “way before he was elected president” last May. However, a person with knowledge of his condition told The Times in September that Duterte was using the drug then.