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Narco-pols, drug lords tagged as saboteurs

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said that since the anti-criminality campaign is the centerpiece program of the Duterte administration, the Palace does not rule out the possibility that some groups may conspire to sabotage the campaign. Presidential Photographers Division/Toto Lozano, File

MANILA, Philippines — It’s probably narco-politicians and drug lords who are behind what President Duterte thinks is “sabotage” of his war against drugs, which has again triggered massive public outrage over the recent killing of three teenagers, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said that since the anti-criminality campaign is the centerpiece program of the Duterte administration, the Palace does not rule out the possibility that some groups may conspire to sabotage the campaign.

“It should not come as a surprise that these malignant elements would conspire to sabotage the President’s campaign to rid the Philippines of illegal drugs and criminality,” Abella said yesterday.

“It may include creating scenarios stoking public anger against the government,” he added.

The Caloocan police has been implicated in the murder of Kian Loyd delos Santos, 17; Carl Angelo Arnaiz,19, and Reynaldo de Guzman, 14.

Earlier, Abella said the Office of the President expressed “profound dismay” over the killing of the teenagers. 

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Yesterday, the Palace cast doubt on the motives behind the killings.

“The recent killings apparently targeting the youth should be viewed with suspicion and urgency,” Abella said.

He noted that the President’s war against drugs has “adversely affected many, including powerful narco-politicians and deep pocketed drug lords who flourished prior to this administration.”

During the campaign for the 2016 presidential elections, Duterte promised to stop the illegal drug trade in three to six months and to kill drug dealers and users. In his speeches, Duterte repeatedly threatened narco-politicians, drug lords and drug addicts that he would kill them all.

In a speech in Digos City on Friday, Duterte claimed that the killing of De Guzman was a sabotage of the war against drugs.

De Guzman was the companion of Arnaiz, a 19-year-old former student University of the Philippines, who was accused by the Caloocan police of holding up a taxi driver and was later found dead. The two left the Arnaiz residence on the evening of Aug. 17 to buy snacks. 

Arnaiz was found dead with five gunshot wounds and bruises in Caloocan City 10 days after he went missing. De Guzman’s body was found in a creek in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija with at least 26 stab wounds and his head wrapped in packing tape last Tuesday.

The Caloocan police claimed that Arnaiz was killed during a shootout in followup operations after he supposedly held up R&E Taxi driver Tomas Bagcal on C-3 Road in Caloocan City and then fled.

But forensic analysis conducted by the Public Attorney’s Office suggested that Arnaiz was tortured before he was killed. It also found that Arnaiz was kneeling when he was shot several times.

Keep off rally vs EJKs

Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the military to keep off the massive protest against summary killings that certain sectors are planning to hold.

“Let them be…There should be no show of force for the military,” the President said during the 17th anniversary of Digos City in Davao del Sur on Friday. 

“Just leave somebody to man the traffic,” the President told the police force. 

“We must remain strong as a nation with a strong military and police,” he added.

Duterte also said he is happy that the country has reached a stage of civilization and thank God for making him president. 

“I am thankful to God that I was given a chance to become a president. I do not even know why I am president,” he added.

‘When there’s shabu, there’s no democracy’

Duterte also slammed anew human rights advocates and critics of the summary killings in his war against drugs, saying the drug problem will persist even in a democracy like the Philippines and even the leaders of world superpowers like the United States and Russia have agreed with his view.

“Do not give me a s**t about due process, wag tayong magbolohan dito (let’s not fool ourselves here). When there is shabu, there is no democracy at all,” the President said.

Duterte was referring to Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, who was killed by raiding policemen in his house over alleged involvement in illegal drugs.

Duterte said Parojinog used government resources, including the local police, in manufacturing shabu “day and night.”

“After this Marawi incident, I will go after you and the human rights and all the hulaballoo,” he added.

Since Duterte assumed the presidency, he has received flak from human rights groups and the Catholic Church for the summary killings in the government’s war against drugs.

But Duterte and his allies have belied that policemen are behind the summary killings.

Last week, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle issued a one-page letter appealing anew for an end to the spate of killings in the administration’s war on drugs.

Malacañang yesterday disputed Tagle’s statement that the President has been leading a nation governed by killings. Abella maintained that the Duterte administration is pro-family.

“Cardinal Tagle’s concern with the Filipino families is noteworthy. The sentiment is something shared by the President as evidenced by his consistent pronouncements to protect the youth and future generation of this country. Much attention was given to recent spate of deaths,” he added. 

Abella cited statistics that 1,308,078 drug personalities have voluntarily surrendered as of July 26 this year. 

“(This) belies the claim that we cannot allow the destruction of lives to become normal and we cannot govern the nation by killing,” he said.

“The illegal drug problem affects us all and we appreciate the initiative of His Emminence to have a multi-sectoral dialogue attended by bishops, representatives from relevant government agencies, media and the youth,” he added. – With Edith Regalado

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