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‘Lawmen facing raps in drug war to walk free’

The Philippine Star
âLawmen facing raps in drug war to walk freeâ

“Let us be very clear on this. I said, ‘I will not.’ You just go ahead and do your – whatever is ordered. I will see you through and assure you, you will be a free man,” Duterte said in remarks at the commemoration of the 120th founding anniversary of the Presidential Security Group (PSG). JOVEN CAGANDE, File

MANILA, Philippines -  I assure you, you will be a free man.

President Duterte reiterated yesterday that no policeman or soldier would be put behind bars for following his orders to go after drug personalities.

He gave the assurance in the wake of serious concerns raised by some senators over the downgrading of charges against Police Supt. Marvin Marcos and his men from murder to homicide.

“Let us be very clear on this. I said, ‘I will not.’ You just go ahead and do your – whatever is ordered. I will see you through and assure you, you will be a free man,” Duterte said in remarks at the commemoration of the 120th founding anniversary of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).

Marcos and several others were originally indicted for murder for the killing of then detained Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa and fellow detainee Raul Yap in November last year. The Department of Justice, however, downgraded the case to homicide, a bailable offense.

Duterte reiterated he is ready to lose the presidency in the course of protecting members of the police and the military who risk their lives and careers in performing their tasks in the administration’s bloody drug war.

“But let me tell you frankly: I will not allow, even at the risk of losing the presidency, I will not allow any soldier or policeman to go to prison for destroying the drug industry in this country,” he said.

“When I was mayor, I used to say, ‘don’t mess with my city or I will kill you.’ When I became president, I said ‘don’t ruin the Philippines or our children – or I will really kill you’,” he said with expletives.

In strictly enforcing the law, Duterte said collateral damage could not be avoided. He noted that the drug manufacturing business in Marawi City had become a major source of funds for the “fractured ideology” of the Islamic State-backed Maute Group.

“But there is a bigger problem. And I think that because of the mass production of shabu in many parts of Mindanao, be it in Davao del Norte, Cotabato, Cagayan, Buldon. Sabi ko, ‘Hindi na ito por consumo kay consumo lang…(This is not just for individual consumption)’,” he said, adding a person “can only sniff so much.”

Duterte shrugged off his being tagged as “killer” by critics, saying he had to protect the nation from the scourge of illegal drugs.

“I don’t mind being called killer. Everyone is a killer, who’s not? When you are threatened, that is self-preservation,” said Duterte, whose statements came in the wake of renewed criticism from a United Nations human rights official over his and US President Donald Trump’s not being averse to torture and extrajudicial killings.

“Nobody wants to kill people. Even I, I’m not really an angel – but I would not hesitate to destroy a life that threatens the youth of the land. You flood this country with drugs and we produce a nation of inutile,” he said.

“Now who else would want to be a soldier, a governor? Puro katok (Just crackpots)? And then you would just weaken the country. And by the time… At the end of the day that this country collapses, who gets the blame? Ako, kayo, na wala tayong ginawa (I, you, for not doing anything),” he said.

Duterte, who is marking his first year in office, reminded the public that he has not wavered in his drug campaign, despite criticisms from human rights advocates.

“Ito, it was really funding and that is why hard hit was the Visayas. I had an occasion to say it in public, that it was Iloilo who was the bedrock of – kasi doon dinadaan eh then spread to the Visayas. Then it involved the mayors and the gangster,” he said.

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