Marcos, Duterte ‘drug war’ erupts

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos, Duterte �drug war� erupts
Incoming Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr (L) and outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte (C) take part in the inauguration ceremony for Marcos at the Malacanang presidential palace grounds in Manila on June 30, 2022. The son of the Philippines' late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was to be sworn in as president on June 30, completing a decades-long effort to restore the clan to the country's highest office.
Francis R. Malasig / Pool / AFP

Marcos blames fentanyl for Duterte addict tirade

MANILA, Philippines — Turning the tables on former president Rodrigo Duterte who had publicly called him a drug addict, President Marcos said yesterday his predecessor is highly addicted to the painkiller fentanyl, the serious side effects of which may have affected his thinking and behavior.

Duterte, father of Vice President Sara Duterte, accused Marcos of being a drug addict in an expletive-filled speech in Davao City last Sunday, the latest in a series of events that showed a deepening rift between the two families.

The former president said Marcos was even on the drug watch list of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. The PDEA denied yesterday that Marcos had ever been on its drug list.

Asked to react to Duterte’s tirades, Marcos said the use of fentanyl may have taken a toll on his predecessor.

“I think it’s the fentanyl. Fentanyl is the strongest painkiller that you can buy. It is highly addictive and it has very serious side effects, and PRRD has been taking the drug for a very long time now,” he said, referring to Duterte.

“When was the last time he told us that he was taking fentanyl? About five, six years ago, something like that,” Marcos told reporters at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay before leaving for Vietnam.

“After five, six years, it has to affect him, so I think that’s the reason he acted that way. So, you know, I hope his doctors take better care of him. They should not allow this problem to persist,” he added.

Pressed if he was categorically denying that he was involved in illegal drugs, Marcos laughed and replied: “I won’t even dignify that question.”

Duterte on Sunday also warned Marcos that the efforts by some administration allies to amend the Constitution through a people’s initiative signature campaign could lead to his suffering the fate of his late father and namesake, who was ousted in the 1986 People Power revolution.

Swindling the people

The former president claimed that politicians behind the signature campaign, including Marcos’ cousin Speaker Martin Romualdez, are “swindling” the people and are trying to perpetuate themselves in power.

In its website, the US Drug Enforcement Administration said fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as an analgesic or pain relief and anesthetic. According to the agency, fentanyl is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic.

Fentanyl overdose can cause stupor, changes in pupil size, clammy skin, cyanosis, coma and respiratory failure leading to death, the drug enforcement agency said.

When he was president, Duterte admitted to using fentanyl because it made him feel better. In one of his speeches, Duterte said his doctor had advised him to stop using the drug because he might lose his cognitive ability.

The 78-year-old former president also disclosed in 2018 that his partner, a former nurse, had warned him that fentanyl could turn him into an addict.

Duterte hurled the accusation against Marcos during a prayer rally attended by opponents of the people’s initiative campaign in Davao. It was held on the same day the administration conducted a rally for its governance branding “Bagong Pilipinas” in Manila.

The Vice President, who is also the education secretary, attended the Bagong Pilipinas event but left early to participate in the Davao prayer rally.

During the Bagong Pilipinas rally, Marcos emphasized the need for unity and positive change and assailed what he described as “toxic politics.”

Duterte’s accusations against the President and the Speaker further fueled rumors of an internal strife within UniTeam, the coalition that carried Marcos and Duterte to election victory in the 2022 elections.

Appeal to AFP, PNP

In his speech yesterday, Duterte also called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to protect the Constitution.

However, it was not the first time Duterte criticized Marcos. Months before the 2022 polls, Duterte described Marcos as “spoiled” and a “weak leader” with “baggage.”

The former president, known for his freewheeling and profanity-laced speeches, also claimed that a candidate for president who belongs to a wealthy family was using cocaine but did not name names.

Talk about the supposed cracks within UniTeam surfaced after Marcos’ allies in the House of Representatives realigned the confidential funds of agencies led by Duterte, the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education.

Last October, the former president accused Romualdez of “swallowing” discretionary funds and labeled the House of Representatives as the “most rotten” institution. House members denied the allegations and approved a resolution affirming the chamber’s integrity.

In a media interview in Hawaii last November, Marcos denied that there were cracks in the UniTeam alliance.

“I don’t think so. It is even becoming more solid,” the President said.

PDEA, meanwhile, said that its national drug information system (NDIS), the intelligence database of drug personalities, does not include the name of President Marcos from its inception to the present.

“President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. was never in our NDIS,” PDEA said in a statement.

Despite the denial, Duterte said he will never apologize to Marcos.

At a press briefing, PDEA spokesman Derrick Carreon told reporters that access of politicians or local government officials to the drug list is limited to their specific jurisdictions.

“Perhaps if we were to surmise the level of coverage of authority of a mayor, if we were to speak local authorities, he will only have access within the area of his political unit,” Carreon said. — Edith Regalado, Mark Ernest Villeza

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