PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte yesterday defended his deadly war on drugs against critics, saying the country needs an iron fist to destroy drug lords.

In a speech, the president said he is serious about his campaign, having dealt with drug lords even before he became president by throwing them in various areas to instill fear.

“You don’t know how many I have thrown in Manila Bay,” Mr. Duterte said. “I threw this one drug lord in Laguna de Bay while the other one I threw in the Mountain Province, in a ravine,” he said, without naming them.

Mr. Duterte won the presidency in 2016 based on a platform to rid the country of illegal drugs. He had promised to eradicate the menace in six months.

Philippine police have said they have killed about 6,000 people in illegal drug raids, many of them resisting arrest. Some local nongovernmental organizations and the national Commission on Human Rights have placed the death toll at more than 27,000.

He put Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, an opposition leader, in charge of his anti-illegal drug campaign this month, only to fire her less than three weeks later. He said he didn’t trust her. — Gillian M. Cortez