MANILA, Philippines – Sick of criticism that his administration has failed to bring down drug lords or "big fish," President Rodrigo Duterte claimed he threw a drug lord down a ravine in Mountain Province and another drug lord into Manila Bay.
Duterte often makes exaggerated statements. But he used the claim to say he sees no need to announce when the government eliminates a drug lord.
"Bakit, nag-announce ba kami na 'yung drug lord, si ano, tinapon ko sa ano, Manila de Bay? 'Yung isa, hinulog ko sa Mountain Province, doon sa ravine. Do I have to advertise that? Ulol pala kayo eh," he said on Thursday, November 28, during an awarding ceremony for child-friendly cities at Malacañang.
(Why, did we announce when I threw a drug lord into Manila de Bay? The other one, I threw in Mountain Province, into a ravine. Do I have to advertise that? You fools.)
The President was incensed that columnists were hitting him for not targeting drug lords or high-ranking members of drug syndicates. Early on, critics and human rights watchdogs hit the Duterte government for appearing to focus on street drug peddlers and addicts who come mostly from impoverished communities.
Duterte even made a thinly veiled threat against critical columnists.
"Sabi nila, itong mga idiyotong mga kolumnista, wala raw nakuha na – hindi lang ninyo alam. Baka hindi 'nyo alam may tinapon ako diyan sa Manila Bay. Baka gusto 'nyo pati kayo," said Duterte.
(They said, these idiotic columnists, we didn't get – you just don't know. Maybe you don't know that I threw someone into Manila Bay. Maybe you also want to end up there.)
Seeking to correct the perception of a soft approach to drug lords, Duterte said his government has brought down alleged drug masterminds Reynaldo Parojinog Sr and Rolando Espinosa Sr. The two, both local government officials, were killed in government operations and raids. Parojinog was mayor of Ozamiz City while Espinosa was mayor of Albuera, a town in Leyte.
But Duterte has been particularly criticized for failing to bring alleged drug lord Peter Lim into the folds of the law. He's also said that some of the most powerful drug lords controlling the Philippine trade are Chinese nationals who are abroad and thus beyond the jurisdiction of Philippine enforcement agencies.
The Duterte government has also depended on the testimony of incarcerated drug lords to try to pin down opposition senator Leila de Lima on drug charges. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.