EDITORIAL - Did Duterte signal the clearing of Lim?

The Freeman

What was supposed to be a 30-minute State of the Nation Address by President Duterte metamorphosed into something three times longer than anticipated. Much of the extra time was devoted to ad libs, anecdotes, wisecracks and even grunting – as when the president tried to differentiate the various nuances of the Cebuano "O" or yes, as he narrated his response to Gina Lopez when she asked if he was serious in offering her the environment portfolio.

But as it turned out, the extended speech was all for the better. It provided a wide-ranging expanse of topics and issues from which analysts, commentators and even ordinary folk picked their subjects for discussion. And what merry picking they had. Duterte did not disappoint. Those who expected positive things got what they expected to hear. Critics were not disappointed either and had a few key issues to pounce on.

There was, however, an important point – so important in fact that Duterte repeated it somewhere down the line – that, as this was being written, seems to have surprisingly eluded the notice of either the pundits or the casual observers. And this has something to do with Peter Lim, the Cebuano businessmen who many people felt Duterte alluded to as an alleged drug lord in an earlier occasion prior to the SONA, and who has since submitted himself to an NBI investigation.

Not once did Duterte mention Peter Lim in his SONA. But the president, on two separate times in his SONA, categoricaly said there are no drug lords in the Philippines. Who are in the Philippines, Duterte explained, are just the lieutenants and other underlings. The real drug lords manage their business from outside the country, employing the latest technologies to monitor and supervise shipments and deliveries.

So what then is to be made of the president's categorical declaration that there are no drug lords in the Philippines, at least as far as its bearing on the case of Lim? Can that be considered as an oblique exoneration? Was the president sending a subtle signal that Lim is in the clear? Of course only Duterte himself can say what he truly meant by what he said.

It is easy to see why nobody pounced on that part of the president's SONA. There is little known of Lim outside Cebu. And even when he went to see Duterte in Davao in order to both clear his name and to secure his life, the national media naturally did not give the development the exposure that local media gave it. It was probably too local a story to merit wide national exposure. Hence nobody connected the dots when Duterte said his thing about drug lords except the locals, if at all.

In the meantime, since nobody apparently noticed that part of the speech and there will be no time to ask for a clarification until much later, the best thing for everyone to do is simply await the outcome of the investigation. Until that happens, there will be no shortage of things to look out for in a Duterte presidency. It appears that the president can be as predictable as he is capable of pulling the most surprising of surprises.

vuukle comment
  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with