Duterte sorry for wrongly tagging officials in ‘drug matrix’

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday publicly apologized for mistakenly implicating a number of officials in the “drug matrix.”

Duterte said that despite verifying the information from the police report four times, he still discovered lapses. He said the names of former Pangasinan governor and now Pangasinan Rep. Amado Espino Jr., Pangasinan Provincial Administrator Rafael "Raffy" Baraan and Pangasinan Board Member Raul Sison were wrongly included in the matrix. For this, the president apologized.

“But insofar as the drug, I think that somehow we were negligent in counterchecking during the first report. So kay Espino, and even to Sison at kay Baraan, 'yung kapatid, ('wag 'yung undersecretary sabit talaga 'yun), I would like to apologize to you publicly. And I would say now I am very sorry,” Duterte said in his speech after inspecting a suspected shabu laboratory in Pampanga.

“But trabaho ko 'yan, it's part of my territory, I cannot be perfect and sometimes you are correct when you say that life is never fair,” he added.

Duterte said he spent several nights discerning their connection and involvement in the New Bilibid Prison drug trade, but he said there was a gap that he could not explain. He added they were probably inflicted due to rumors and hearsays or politics or they were purposely tagged without really checking the validity of their involvement.

RELATED: Duterte matrix tags De Lima, ex-Pangasinan guv in drug trade

On Aug. 25, 2016, the president released the drug matrix showing the involvement of Sen. Leila de Lima and Espino in the narcotics trade inside the Bilibid. The matrix also showed the links of De Lima's driver Ronie Dayan, former Justice Undersecretary Francisco "Toti" Baraan III, his brother Rafael, retired Gen. Franklin Bucayo and Sison.

Duterte, however, maintained that aside from the three, all the others were rightfully implicated. The president said he could not apologize for Rafael’s involvement in black sand mining, which the latter got convicted for an administrative case, but he is sorry for tagging him in the illegal drug trade.

Duterte said he takes full responsibility since he was the one who released the drug matrix and even said he is willing to be charged if need be.  

“No, I take full responsibility. Ako 'yung nag-announce, hindi naman (sila). Sabi ko... I take full responsibility, even if the soldiers and the police would commit a serious wrong, I will assume that mistake. And they can file charges at me, fine. But my answer to the judge would really be something like, 'Nagkamali ako, I am sorry but I have to inform the people immediately so that they can take regard of their surroundings and prevent the contamination of drugs,'” Duterte said.

“Hindi ako (ma-pride) na tao. Hindi ako kargado ng pride chicken kagaya ng iba. Ako kapag mali. Masama nga ang bunganga ko, pero 'pag ako nagkamali, it comes from the heart, I am very sorry,” he said.

Duterte, however, clarified that the agencies that came up with the drug matrix did not do anything wrong with the validation but there was a lapse in connecting the personalities involved.

“Nothing went wrong, everybody was correct. But the focusing was, there was lapses. Connect-connect 'yan, connect-connect 'yan, connect-connect. They probably hit a snag somewhere and they stopped. So tinitingnan ko 'yung iba, 'yung DILG... magtrabaho kayo, give me a chart there. Hindi ko ma-connect e,” he said.

Duterte said he would publicly name officials mostly barangay captains, mayors, governors and congressmen, once he comes back from his Vietnam trip. He said he wants the public to know the identities of the criminals and corrupt officials.

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