MANILA, Philippines – Without a complaint filed in a court, the spread of photos showing Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte with Kenneth Dong, the Cebu-based businessman linked to the P6.4-billion shabu shipment, is mere “propaganda,” said Malacañang.
“That’s what’s important, documentary evidence, not hearsay. Otherwise all of these things are just speculation, propaganda that can be used and misused,” said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Monday, August 14.
He was giving the Palace’s reaction to photos being spread online showing Paolo Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte’s eldest son, with Dong.
Dong is the businessman who Bureau of Customs (BOC) broker Mark Taguba alleged is the middleman of Richard Tan or Richard Chen, owner of Hongfei Logistics, the company which transported the shipment with billions of pesos worth of shabu to a Valenzuela City warehouse.
Dong is also being investigated by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Central Visayas as a “person of interest,” supposedly for involvement in the trafficking of illegal drugs, according to a Cebu Daily News report.
Abella said those claiming the younger Duterte is linked to smuggling must take their claims and evidence to court. (READ: FAST FACTS: Who is Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte?)
Merely sharing photos of the two is just “trial by publicity,” he added.
“If anything serious [those concerned] regarding this matter then should raise the issue in the proper venues…At the end of the day, what does it become? It becomes trial by publicity,” said Duterte’s spokesman.
Abella also said the photos must first be “vetted for accuracy” in order to count as documentary evidence.
“What does the picture prove? [It’s] different when it’s in the court, there’s really documentary evidence,” said Abella.
Paolo Duterte himself has reacted to the photos. In his statement, posted on Facebook, he includes photos showing Dong in the company of Liberal Party members, including LP president Senator Francis Pangilinan and Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV.
The image comes with the words, “Ang galing niyo ha ibang tao pa pagbintangan ninyo! Eh kayo kayo lang din pala! (You’re great, you accuse others! But you yourself are guilty of it!)”
The spread of photos comes after President Duterte declared he would resign if anyone could give him an affidavit proving his eldest son is engaged in illegal activities.
Duterte made this dare after Paolo’s name was dragged into the shabu shipment controversy tackled in congressional hearings.
In one hearing, Taguba claimed Paolo was being name-dropped by corrupt BOC personnel. (READ: Paolo Duterte a ‘smuggler’? Trillanes releases documents anew) – Rappler.com