Philippines President Duterte: “No letup” in going after government officials involved in the illegal drug trade

President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday vowed anew that there would be no letup in going after government officials involved in the illegal drug trade. BOY SANTOS, file photo

MANILA, Philippines – President Duterte yesterday vowed anew that there would be no letup in going after government officials involved in the illegal drug trade.

In a speech during the anniversary celebration of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Duterte promised continued support for lawmen who go after drug personalities.

The reassurance comes following the death of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte at the hands of a regional team of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Espinosa was killed inside his cell at the Leyte sub-provincial jail in an 6alleged rubout by the CIDG last Nov. 5. The policemen claimed they raided Espinosa’s cell for drugs and guns.

Duterte reiterated that the widespread drug problem should be addressed, otherwise the country would become a narco-state.

He also directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to revalidate the order of battle, which also went through verification by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

“We have about 17 mayors (allegedly involved in drug trade). One of them just died. And we have about two congressmen and about three or four, I’m not sure of the four, governor,” Duterte said.

It was not clear if the President was referring to Espinosa or to Mayor Samsudin Dimaukon of Datu Saudi-Ampatuan, who was killed in an alleged shootout last October.

The Espinosa slay is the subject of the probe of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Duterte reiterated he is taking full responsibility for the actions of his lawmen who followed his orders to ensure that “every drug pusher is out of the streets and the last drug lord killed during his term.”

“And I will believe your story because I am your chief. To the military I’m the commander-in-chief. On the civilian side, I am the chief executive of the government,” he said.

“The police is under the DILG. So I have to believe the story of the police for simply they are my subordinates and I am ultimately responsible for their deeds,” he added.

Duterte to lawmen: Tell the truth

But Duterte urged lawmen to be frank and truthful to him.

“Just tell me the truth. Maski anong klaseng totoo ‘yan (whatever kind of truth it is) tell me the truth. Para hindi ako parang buang dito. Para alam ko kung paano (So I won’t look crazy here. So that I know) how to present the truth to the public,” he said.

“Do not s*** with me. Sabihin mo sa akin ang totoo. Lalo na sa trabaho (Tell me the truth, especially in work),” he added.

The President also warned policemen and soldiers that he has no heart for lawmen engaged in illegal activities.

“But if you are accused of extortion, kidnapping, some of you who are involved there. Do not do it in my time. You do it, patayin kita. Anong gusto mo? Barrett na sniper? Ambush? Mamili ka, mamili ka (you do it, I will kill you. What do you like? Barrett sniper? Ambush? You choose, you choose),” he said.

PNP chief vows to keep Kerwin safe

Meanwhile, the PNP is taking custody of Espinosa’s son, suspected Eastern Visayas drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr., upon his return to the country from Dubai on Thursday to ensure his safety.

Kerwin was arrested in Abu Dhabi while trying to extend his stay in the Arab state to escape arrest in the Philippines for his reported involvement in the illegal drug trade.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said Kerwin would be escorted back to the country from Dubai by four PNP anti-drug officials, headed by Anti-Illegal Drug Group chief Senior Supt. Albert Ignatius Ferro.

Dela Rosa said because of the Espinosa slay, the PNP and the Department of Justice (DOJ) will file a motion to allow the detention of Kerwin at Camp Crame to ensure his safety.

The DOJ is reportedly trying to convince Kerwin to be a state witness.

“We will do the normal procedure but if possible we will no longer present him before the Leyte court. We will inform the court upon the return of the warrant that he (Kerwin) is in our custody at Camp Crame,” Dela Rosa said.


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