Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly asked the chief of the narcotics control body, Dionisio Santiago, to resign from the post after just five months into the job. His removal comes shortly after the drug body's head made statements contradicting the president.
Santiago, a former army general, is the second successive chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board to exit the organisation. He submitted a brief two-sentence resignation letter and did not explicitly speak about reasons for his departure.
When asked to comment on his resignation, Santiago, who took over in July, said: "My rule is the boss is always right and if you think the boss is not right, refer to rule No. 1." The presidential palace is yet to formally announce Santiago's unceremonious exit.
In October, Santiago had commented that Duterte's decision to construct a massive drug rehabilitation facility, a 10,000-bed centre, was a "mistake". He said the money from the mega-project could have been funnelled into smaller community-based projects instead. The project, sponsored by a Chinese businessman, was a step in Duterte's otherwise-notorious drug as it builds a partnership with philanthropists.
"That was a mistake. The problem is, the President got excited, but the money could have been spent on small community-based rehabilitation programs that can accommodate only between 150 and 200 people," the now-sacked Santiago said in an interview, which reportedly angered Duterte.
Santiago's predecessor, Benjamin Reyes, was fired by Duterte for stating there were 1.8 million drug users in the Philippines – much lower than the claimed figure of four million drug addicts.
Duterte has launched a relentless war against illegal narcotics trade in the Philippines and there have been rampant killings ever since he took charge as president. Many of them have been branded as extrajudicial murders at the hands of vigilantes and others have raised serious human rights concerns. However, Duterte has shown little regard for rights groups or activists and has promised to pursue his anti-drug campaign.