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Despite blunder, Duterte to disclose 3rd narco-list

He had them revalidated thrice. So declared Rody Duterte before disclosing a list of five generals and then of 164 politicians, judges, soldiers, and policemen allegedly protecting drug lords. Given the President’s vast resources, one would think the three verifications were solid enough to stand in court. They weren’t.

Duterte controls all the intelligence arms – of the National Police, Armed Forces, Immigration, BIR, Customs, Coast Guard, etc. The first appraisal alone, intel processing, would have been thorough for info classification “For the President’s Eyes Only.” He also controls crime investigation units: the police, NBI, National Prosecutorial Service, etc. The second vetting would have consisted of evidence build-up.

Duterte even had a “National Bilibid Prison Drug Matrix” of narco-trafficking from behind bars, including former Pangasinan governor, now congressman Amado Espino, his provincial administrator Rafael Baraan, and provincial board member Raul Sison, ex-justice secretary now senator Leila de Lima, ex-undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, ex-Corrections director-general Franklin Bucayo, and “boyfriend of de Lima since Commission on Human Rights days ... started as driver ... now known as case fixer” Ronnie Palisoc Dayan of Urbiztondo, Pangasinan. Crack agencies like the FBI and Scotland Yard make such syndicate diagrams for easy understanding of trial judges. Duterte’s matrix turned out to be so wrong that, “after several personal reviews,” he saw no proof against so had to apologize in public to Espino, Rafael Baraan, and Sison. That shatters the credibility of the two narco-lists. More so since the first mislabeled one general as chief of a region to which he was never posted, while the second had one politician who is long dead, one of seven judges also deceased, another dismissed for incompetence, all the rest already retired and only one once having jurisdiction over drug cases, and one soldier killed in action as far back as 2010 and four others also discharged.

Will Duterte have to say sorry to other falsely implicated persons? He doesn’t think so. He even intends to name 1,100 more lawmakers, local officials, and uniformed personnel – supposedly in the narco-trade. He thinks it his duty to declassify mere intel gatherings and not solid case buildups after all. What if he errs again? Then he’ll just have to make more apologies, he shrugs: “That is the way to go in this world. As a lawyer, when you make public a certain wrong against a certain person, you’d have effectively destroyed his reputation. So fair is fair. I have committed a lot of mistakes in my life.”

Espino, Baraan, and Sison are lucky. Being socially prominent, they were able, on Espino’s request, to get Duterte to reassess their listing. They were so glad to be delisted that they profusely thanked the man who wrongly accused them in the first place. Lucky too are the two mayors in Lanao del Sur and one in Maguindanao who fearfully turned themselves in and confessed to being narco-traders before joining politics. As well, the mayor of Albuera, Leyte, who let his son reign as narco-trafficker of Eastern Visayas and is now living in police protection at the local precinct. Not to forget the narco-trading father-and-son members of the Alcala political clan in Quezon who have reported to the local cops. They are all alive and kicking.

But what of the millions of lesser mortals in the “tok-hang” rosters of the local police? They have been listed up by “barangay intelligence” as drug pushers and users. Based on that the police toktok (knock) on their door and hangyo (request) them to desist, or else. What if the barangay officials implicated some of them out of personal grudge? Malice is a big temptation for little minds; Duterte himself says there are many barangay chairmen in his third forthcoming narco-list. Visited by the cops or not, 750,000 have surrendered. Many of them nonetheless were later killed in police raids or by vigilantes. Who among the fatalities were victims of malice? Only God knows; man would never be able to bring them back to life. Even if it’s his most hated Senator de Lima saying that, Duterte would do well to listen. As Justice holds, better to acquit ten guilty men than to convict one innocent – let alone take his life.

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Sen. Panfilo Lacson, an ex-police general, cautions against any more disclosures of raw intelligence findings. He knows whereof he speaks. Such reports are mere takeoffs, for painstaking investigation and prosecution. They cannot be bases for “shoot-on-sight” orders. As Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said, no surrender without arrest warrant from a proper court.

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