MANILA, Philippines – Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Richard Gordon maintained there is no evidence linking relatives of President Rodrigo Duterte to smuggling, as he said China is to blame for the P6.4 billion worth of smuggled shabu.
Gordon stood by his earlier view and said there is no proof against the President’s son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and his son-in-law Manases Carpio, who was recently implicated for visiting the office of outgoing Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
Former BOC intelligence chief Neil Estrella testified that he saw Carpio once at Faeldon’s office. Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV also said Carpio went there 5 times, and Vice Mayor Duterte, twice. (READ: Duterte son-in-law denies visits to BOC linked to smuggling)
Gordon said, however, that these supposed visits are not enough proof. He said Trillanes has been insisting on the young Duterte’s participation but has not yet presented strong evidence.
“Wala pa ko nakikita (I’m not seeing anything concrete). Anybody can go there. It’s as bad as a picture being taken, nagpakuha litrato sa ‘yo, tapos may ginawa ka na masama(you had a photo taken and then you are suddenly implicated in a wrongdoing),” Gordon told reporters after a Senate hearing.
“Pinipilit niya kasama si (Trillanes is insisting on) Paolo but he has not produced any evidence. You cannot just bring anybody here just because somebody mentions my name,” Gordon added.
For the administration ally, China should be blamed for the illegal shipment of 604 kilos of methamphetamine or shabu to Manila, saying there is a “conspiracy.”
“The shabu problem begins with China and ends with China. That’s what we must pursue, because we have the evidence now,” he said.
Gordon wrote to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to request the Department of Justice’s assistance in asking the cooperation of China Customs.
In his letter, Gordon said the Philippines and China have a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on Criminal Matters, which provides “mutual assistance in investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses.”
“It might even be a Chinese conspiracy that’s why China has to cooperate. I’m prepared to say that China entered into a conspiracy with [Richard] Chen if they don’t cooperate. Why would they say in the beginning walang Pilipinong dumating, walang ibang involved (no Filipino arrived, no one else was involved)? Dapat makipag-cooperate sila (They should cooperate),” Gordon said.
If China won’t cooperate, Gordon said it is time for the Philippines to revisit its relations with the Asian giant.
“Kung hindi kayo mag-cooperate (If you don’t cooperate with us), then I don’t think we should have any relations with China. That is a hostile act, sending drugs here. Sixty percent of the drugs that are coming here in the Philippines are coming from people of Chinese ancestry,” Gordon said.
This, however, is in contrast to Duterte’s foreign policy. The President has repeatedly thanked and praised China in his speeches. China has also vowed to help the administration in its drug war but has remained a major source of illegal substances for the Philippines.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, a former justice chief, said China could not be compelled to answer.
“We can ask them but they need not respond to us. They are a sovereign nation. We can always ask, nothing wrong with asking, baka sakaling sumagot (they might answer). Pero kung hindi sumagot, wala tayong magagawa (But if they don’t, we can’t do anything about it),” Drilon said.
The Senate blue ribbon committee has set its 6th hearing on the smuggled shabu for Thursday, August 31. – Rappler.com
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