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Opinion

Too late to kill drug lords

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte says he will kill five more drug lords before he bows out on June 30.

“Perhaps before I step down, let us finish off three or five drug lords,” said the effusive Chief Executive.

From where I sit, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will no longer obey him, given his limited time as leader.

Nobody will obey a lame-duck president and I’m sure he knows that.

Why? Because when the President becomes Citizen Duterte a little less than two months from now, he will no longer have the power to defend policemen who might be charged in court for murder for killing drug lords. Digong shall have become irrelevant.

His bluster now rings hollow.

Digong should have focused on killing drug traffickers – instead of petty street pushers – early in his term, because he had access to intelligence reports about their activities.

But even the intelligence agencies were feeding the President inaccurate information – such as people who had long died – because they either wanted to please their Commander-in-Chief or lied about their data.

There were people on the President’s list of drug lords who were never connected with the drug trade, such as the then Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino. Espino, a bemedaled officer of the defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC), abhorred illegal drugs.

Mr. Duterte’s principal implementer of his war on drugs, Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, was probably efficient in disposing of drug personalities as Davao City police chief but became a clueless and bungling provinciano when he became PNP chief.

Dela Rosa, whose assignment was mostly in Mindanao, didn’t know the ways of the drug trade in metropolitan areas like Metro Manila.

Bato dela Rosa was probably so dazzled by the lights of the Big City that he failed to notice that drug lords were operating under his nose. The drug lords are either politicians and society’s “who’s who” or drug traffickers themselves.

For example, a guy being talked about in whispers as a big-time pusher of marijuana and sex-enhancing ecstasy in posh bars interviewed Dela Rosa on television.

That famous personality and others like him were never investigated by the PNP and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) which, for a time, was led by Isidro Lapeña, another country bumpkin.

Had the likes of an Eleazar (Guillermo Lorenzo) been placed early as the PNP chief, many drug lords would probably have disappeared and the national police would now have become a highly disciplined organization.

Nevertheless, Eleazar was able to impose his brand of discipline on the PNP even if for a short period as its chief. It’s a pity he was not included in the “Magic 12” in the election just concluded, a sad commentary on the Filipino voter’s choice of leaders.

Now, let us go back to Digong’s order to execute three or five more drug lords.

Col. Jean Fajardo, PNP spokesman, said Mr. Duterte was being hyperbolic when he gave the shoot-to-kill order.

“We’re all used to how the President is. The war on drugs is done with utmost respect for the law,” Fajardo said.

If Fajardo’s statement is not an indirect disobedience to Digong’s order, I don’t know what is.

*      *      *

The President has nothing to fear of being charged with crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court, because he didn’t do ethnic cleansing or whatever is similar to it.

Rody Duterte was trying to rid society of criminal elements, much like what Rudy Giuliani did to New York’s lowlifes when he was mayor of the Big Apple.

Digong was spot-on when he said that drug lords may get back at him when he is no longer president.

“I am putting at stake my soul here. These sons of b***s will get back at me,” he said.

He would not be entertaining fears of being the object of vendetta by big-time and small-time traffickers if he eliminated all of them in the early part of his term.

But then, he chose the wrong person to implement his war on drugs. I’m sorry if I sound like I’m rubbing it in, but that’s my humble point of view.

*      *      *

Presumptive president Bongbong Marcos’ spokesman, Vic Rodriguez, was within his rights to refuse to answer an impertinent question from a reporter during a news conference, for which he is now being lambasted by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

Rodriguez dismissed Rappler’s Lian Buan’s question with a curt reply, “Next question,” when the reporter asked him if BBM had found a way to face the contempt order when he enters the US on a state visit.

The contempt order from a US court might require Mr. Marcos to appear to explain his non-compliance with a class suit ruling against his family in favor of martial law victims.

I said the question was “impertinent” or irrelevant because Bongbong had nothing to do with martial law that Ferdinand Marcos Sr. declared on Sept. 21, 1972, since he was only 17 at the time.

Did BBM’s supposed refusal to answer the court summons result in his arrest and detention in a US jail for contempt of court during his state visit?

Give us a break! The question should never have been asked in the first place.

The US would be committing a diplomatic faux pas if Mr. Marcos were arrested on his state visit.

*      *      *

An unnamed billionaire was reportedly poised to leave for another country before the next president is sworn in on June 30.

Some people are asking why he is leaving – or has left – the country.

What is he afraid of: has he committed a crime?

PRESIDENT DUTERTE

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