Lawmakers on anti-crime fight: Follow rule of law

Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 8, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers have expressed strong support for President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign but stressed that due process and the rule of law must be upheld.

Duterte yesterday named at least 158 mayors and vice mayors, judges, lawmakers, police and military officers involved in drug trafficking in the country.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police, said the administration should have made sure of the cases against those exposed before Duterte named them.

“But now that names have been exposed, the authorities are hard put to prove the President’s accusation. Hopefully, the evidence gathering will be conducted to serve the ends of justice and not the President’s credibility,” Lacson said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon urged Duterte to immediately charge the officials administratively or in court if there is evidence showing that they were involved in drug trafficking, so the accused would be given the opportunity to defend themselves and clear their names.

“There should be no shortcuts. We should allow due process and the rule of law to take its course,” he added.

Drilon, who hails from Iloilo, also said he is hurt that the perception that local officials are involved in the drug trade became the basis of such a sweeping description of the province.

He lamented that all the efforts of the Ilonggos for the past five years to make Iloilo an attractive and progressive investment destination and a livable city are negated by a sweeping judgment of the city and province of Iloilo.

Alvarez: What’s wrong with shoot-to-kill?

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu and Representatives LRay Villafuerte, Alfred Vargas, Winston Castelo, Robert Ace Barbers and Christopher de Venecia have also expressed support for Duterte’s war against drugs.

“What’s wrong with shoot-to-kill order when the situation requires it, especially when the lives of our law enforcers are in danger? I expected the list and that is the real state of the nation,” said Alvarez, secretary-general of Duterte’s ruling PDP-Laban party.

For Villafuerte, “the shoot-to-kill order against narco-politicians and those involved in illegal drug trade is an indication of how strong, committed and firm the resolve of President Duterte is in fighting and eliminating the drug trade.”

Vargas, on the other hand, reminded lawmen that while the President’s war against drugs is supported, “we are governed by laws to preserve order and stability in our society.”

“As long as there’s no violation of these laws and human rights, this initiative deserves our support,” added Vargas, a Liberal Party stalwart who joined the super majority coalition under PDP-Laban.

Castelo, who heads the House committee on Metro Manila development, also lauded the move.

Barbers said he finds nothing wrong with Duterte’s methods. 

De Venecia wants more rehab centers

De Venecia, meanwhile, wants to create new drug rehabilitation centers in various regions with the increasing number of drug dependents who have surrendered in the war on drugs.

“There is also an equally urgent need for rehabilitation hospital administrators, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, male nurses, attendants and support personnel,” he added.

Duterte’s list dubbed as ‘bad intel’

Some people expressed  disgust over Duterte’s list of government officials involved in the illegal drug trade in the country, with some netizens calling it “bad intelligence.”

Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba expressed disgust over the inclusion of Mayor Marjorie Salazar of Lasam town.

“If a case will be filed against her (Salazar), I will not hesitate to suspend her,” Mamba told The STAR.

He also said he believes Salazar is “just a pawn of a higher political figure” in Cagayan.

He recounted that shabu worth P3.5 billion was discovered in February 2015 in Barangay Nicolas Agatep, a turf of Salazar.

Salazar could not be reached for comment.

Salazar is on her second term. She supported Vice Gov. Odie Fausto in the last gubernatorial elections.

Cagayan Valley Assistant Police Director Chief Supt. Franklin Mabanag said Salazar’s detailed police escorts were recalled to their mother units until she clears her name.

Meanwhile, some netizens in Calbayog City, Samar called Duterte’s list as “bad intel” or bad intelligence as it included the late Judge Roberto Navidad of Calbayog City Regional Trial Court Branch 32, who was shot dead in January 2008.

“That is about nine years ago, unless we have another Judge Navidad in Calbayog City being referred to by this Iist. Was this list validated, re-validated and updated before it was handed out to the President? Or his inclusion refers to the people behind his killing?” said Rommel Rutor, a nephew of Navidad and a media practitioner.

Residents of Calbayog City are also asking in social media who is the “General Idio-RTC Calbayog” included in the list.

Vigilantes to be unmasked

Sen. Leila de Lima, meanwhile, vowed to work hard in unmasking the vigilantes or their handlers responsible for a significant number of drug-related extrajudicial killings in the country.

“There are several theories to these alarming salvagings by faceless individuals. Some are saying they are members of the underworld or drug syndicates or individuals who allow themselves to be used by some policemen or agents of policemen,” De Lima told dzBB.

“It will be challenging to find out who they are but I think law enforcers should have ideas on who they are, they ought to know with their sources,” she said.

As for drug suspects killed during police operations, she said she would seek answers on how the casualties spiked.

The Senate committees on justice and on public order and illegal drugs, chaired by De Lima and Lacson, respectively, are set to conduct a probe on the rising incidents of summary executions.

De Lima and Lacson welcomed the order of Interior Secretary Mike Sueno to PNP Director Ronald dela Rosa to investigate the cases of extrajudicial killings.

Lacson said the PNP must disprove the perception the extrajudicial killings were state sponsored or being tolerated by the authorities. – With Delon Porcalla, Raymund Catindig, Lalaine Jimenea

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