EDITORIAL - The Peter Lim episode is the new narrative

The Freeman

Before President Rodrigo Duterte tagged a certain Peter Lim as one of the country's top three drug lords, in fact even before he ran for president and promised to wipe out drugs in six months, everybody seemed to know who Peter Lim was. Well, not exactly everybody, but even those who did not know Peter Lim talked about him as if they were neighbors, just from hearing stories told by others, some of whom couldn't even tell the man from Adam as well.

What narrative surrounds Peter Lim apparently depends on who is doing the telling. That such narrative often gets embellished over time with each telling and retelling suggests that the Peter Lim story has grown much bigger than the man. To arrive at the truth about him will, therefore, need a very thorough and meticulous paring away of layer upon layer of the narrative.

That job now falls upon the NBI, the seeming agency of choice of Duterte, to find out the truth about Peter Lim and tell, once and for all, the mother of all stories. It will be the most eagerly awaited narrative in contemporary times, rivaling, and perhaps even eclipsing, the sense of anticipation people have for the Game of Thrones.

Not the least eager are President Duterte and Peter Lim themselves - Duterte because of the probability that he might have fired from the hip, and Peter Lim because it is his life on the line. Besides, whether or not anyone has become aware of it already, the Peter Lim episode has become the very face of the Duterte drug campaign.

The rash of killings of lesser known illegal drug personalities is a story told by the numbers. But no matter the eventual figure, what started as a separate story has ceased to be a narrative of its own the moment Duterte began the chapter on Peter Lim. Innocent, as he vigorously professes, or not, it will be on the Peter Lim chapter that the Duterte drug initiative will be measured.

Duterte holds most of the marbles, however. How all of this turns out is all up to his discretion. It also appears that he has time on his side as well because things appear to be moving very swiftly - none of the tentative and sluggish starts that have marked most initiatives of past administrations on anything. Where the passions of the past had been to showcase and to showboat, this time the Duterte administration really hit the ground sprinting.

This is good because results are what really buy political capital. Right now, the trust ratings of Duterte are very high - about 87 percent. Stratospheric as they are, Duterte does not seem bent on squandering any, as had tempted many predecessors of his. Instead he builds and amasses on this capital. Hope he does not put all of them eggs in one basket, especially if that one basket is his drug initiative.

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