“We can’t control it,” Duterte said of the drug problem in a speech to medics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City on Friday.
He claimed that no country had the resources to control ubiquitous drugs.
“Others can’t do it. How can we?” he asked the group of medical practitioners from his hometown.
He said the country’s long coastline and thousands of islands had made the control of drugs smuggling difficult.
“We do not have the equipment” to monitor the entire coastlines, he said.
Earlier this week, Duterte had complained that he lacked enough time to resolve the issue. The drugs problem “cannot be solved by one man for a president for one term,” he said on Wednesday.
Duterte had vowed to end the drug problem in three to six months when he became president last year. He often tacitly encouraged police to take a tough stance in dealing with suspects, and allegations soon emerged that police, on his implicit instructions, were exercising a policy of shoot-to-kill.
The controversial anti-narcotics campaign was met with much opposition from local and international human rights groups after it started in July last year.
Government data shows that 3,400 suspects have died in the fight on drugs since then.
Human rights groups put that number at more than 9,000.