Rodrigo Duterte

Acierto: Duterte ordered burning of shabu lab, killing of suspects in 2004

Rambo Talabong
Acierto: Duterte ordered burning of shabu lab, killing of suspects in 2004

WITNESS. Eduardo Acierto briefly recalls the 2004 Davao raid in his video sent to Rappler from hiding on November 7, 2021.

Rappler screenshot

If President Duterte is having trouble recalling the incident, the intelligence operative says, ‘Itanong mo kay Lascañas,’ referring to a self-confessed gunman of the Davao Death Squad

Back when he was a leading anti-drug operative in Davao City, Eduardo Acierto said then-mayor Rodrigo Duterte instructed him to burn down an entire shabu (meth) laboratory before ordering the lab staff killed.

“Your order was to burn the shabu laboratory, but I did not allow it. Do not deny it. We informed you before we did the raid. You even ordered that people involved here be killed,” Acierto said in his new video sent from hiding to select media, including Rappler, on Sunday, November 7.

Acierto was referring to the December 2004 drug raid on a warehouse in Davao City, jointly carried out by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The operation led to the death of six suspects, who were believed to be Chinese.

If Duterte is having trouble recalling that event, Acierto said, “Itanong mo kay Lascañas (Ask Lascañas).” He was referring to Arturo Lascañas, a veteran Davao City policeman who had confessed to being part of the alleged Davao Death Squad formed and commanded by Duterte.

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Acierto’s statement adds to the narrative about the 2004 shabu lab raid that he claimed could prove that Michael Yang – a Davao businessman whom President Duterte would later name as his economic adviser years later – was involved in illegal drugs.

The information about this raid was Acierto’s basis for his 2017 report that he passed on to the PNP and the PDEA, which then passed on the report to Malacañang.

In October 2018, Duterte admitted that he received intelligence about Yang, but he cleared Yang of any links to drugs. The President’s only basis for doing so was Yang’s ties to the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines at the time.

Acierto accused Duterte of protecting Yang, but the President turned the tables on the intelligence operative, saying the latter was himself a drug protector. In 2019, Duterte put up a P10-million bounty for his arrest.

The Senate has taken interest in Yang’s suspected drug links after he was named as a financier and guarantor of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, a newly formed and under-capitalized company that bagged the biggest pandemic supply contracts from the government.

Acierto has offered himself as a witness against Yang and Duterte.

When the drug allegations resurfaced amid the Senate probe in September 2021, PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva – the chief of the PDEA in Davao City during the 2004 raid – held a briefing for Duterte to clear Michael Yang of any links to the raid.

Villanueva said Yang was never a named target or person of interest in the raid. In a later briefing at the House of Representatives, Villanueva also said that if Yang was indeed involved in drugs, he would have been long dead. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.