Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte , who has faced widespread criticism over his deadly drug crackdown, has been photographed with two Chinese men suspected to be “deeply involved” in illegal drugs , said a former senior anti-narcotics official who wrote a report on the men in 2017 and sent a copy to the authorities. Eduardo Acierto on Sunday said he was unaware what government action had been taken after he submitted his report about the two Chinese men to top police officials in December 2017. Instead, Acierto said he was now facing illegal drugs complaints and has been the target of death threats that forced him to go into hiding recently. 100 new types of designer drugs seen in East, Southeast Asia in 2018: report “In my investigation, I discovered that our president ... is often accompanied by two people deeply involved in illegal drugs,” Acierto said in a video message shown to reporters before he appeared at a news conference in Manila. “What popped into my mind at the time was maybe the president isn’t aware that these are suspected drug lords,” said Acierto, who was a veteran anti-narcotics official before he was dismissed last year by an anti-corruption agency. Acierto’s allegation comes after Duterte on March 15 publicly named 46 government officials, including three congressmen, he said are involved in illegal drugs, and added that criminal investigations against them are underway. Acierto’s confidential report contained many details about the alleged drug links of the two Chinese men, including a secret methamphetamine lab set up by one of the men that was raided in 2004 in Davao, where Duterte served as a long-time mayor before taking office in mid-2016. The Philippines ’ drug enforcement chief said he received Acierto’s report and sent it to Duterte’s office, adding that both his office and the presidential office took steps to validate the allegations against the two Chinese men. Four Chinese arrested after Manila seizes 160kg of meth hidden in tea wrappers An initial check showed that at least one of the men was not facing any illegal drugs case in the country, said Aaron Aquino, director general of the Drug Enforcement Agency. There was a suspected drug dealer in the northern Philippines with the same name as one of the two persons Acierto identified in his report, but Aquino said investigators had yet to determine if they were the same person. “It’s wrong to say that there was no action taken because it was acted upon,” Aquino said. He played down the significance of the photographs Duterte took with the two Chinese men, saying officials often get approached by all sorts of people for group photographs without being able to rapidly check their background. “I get to be asked for selfie shots and I wouldn’t know that the one I’m being photographed with is a drug lord,” Aquino said. Aside from his alleged involvement in the irregular issuance of gun permits that led an anti-corruption prosecutor to order his dismissal last year, Acierto also faces criminal complaints for his alleged role in the entry of a large amount of methamphetamine through the Bureau of Customs in Manila, Aquino said. “In terms of credibility, it’s evident that he’s not credible because, first of all, he has been implicated in the smuggling of drugs,” Aquino said. Police have not said if they investigated those specific allegations or what they found out. In profiles of the two Chinese men provided by Acierto to reporters, they were described to be involved in the “manufacturing, financing, the importation, transshipment and local distribution of meth or shabu”, referring to the local name of meth. Acierto said he made a video message about his findings and contacted the media to make them public to be sure the potential danger the two men posed would be dealt with even if he gets killed. He did not elaborate on the death threats but said they forced him to go into hiding with the help of friends and church people. Discovery of meth addict’s body raises questions about Duterte’s drug war Acierto, who spent 18 years of his 33-year police career in anti-narcotics work, said he initially welcomed Duterte’s passion to combat illegal drugs. But he later realised that the president’s crackdown took a wrong approach by targeting mostly poor drug suspects instead of addressing the “supply side” by going after drug producers, financiers and large-scale traffickers, he said. “Maybe the killings are not the solution and most of those killed belonged to the lower classes,” Acierto said. “If there’s supply there will be addicts. Will they annihilate all these Filipinos?” The other side of Duterte’s war on drugs: rehabilitation and rooting out corruption More than 5,000 drug suspects have been killed in what the police reported were gun battles that ensued during drug raids under Duterte’s crackdown. The killings have alarmed Western governments and human rights group and sparked two complaints for mass murder before the International Criminal Court. Duterte denies condoning extrajudicial killings but has openly threatened drug suspects with death.