MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday, March 4, that when he was Davao City mayor, he used the city’s peace and order funds to pay for the salaries of police personnel who were barred from getting their salaries while being investigated for violations of the law.
By doing this, Duterte was effectively skirting the orders of either the Office of the Ombudsman or the anti-graft cpurt Sandiganbayan to withhold the police personnel’s salaries when they are being investigated for abuse of power.
Duterte, speaking at the inauguration of a farmers’ market in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, on Friday, did not provide more details, like which cops he helped or how much of the peace and order funds he had used for this purpose.
“Ang pulis sa Davao noon, ‘pag nagkakaso ako ang, sabihin ko, ‘Ilan ang suweldo mo, take home?’ Yes, sir, ako ang nagbibigay. Of course, from the peace and order fund,” he said.
(For the police personnel of Davao before, when they faced cases, I asked, “How much is your salary, your take-home pay?” Yes, sir, I will pay. Of course, from the peace and order fund.)
“Ako ang nagbabayad ng abogado. At kung natalo, abogado tayo. Marami kang milagrong magawa,” he continued.
(I pay for the lawyer. If they lose the case, let’s get a lawyer. You can make many miracles happen.)
Duterte repeated a well-known refrain in his presidential addresses that he would “never, ever” allow a police or military personnel or government worker to “go to jail because they have performed their duty.”
The peace and order funds of local government units are intended for the safekeeping of security and to ward off threats, like criminal and terrorist activities.
What a former Davao hitman revealed
Arturo Lascañas, a retired cop who claims to have been an early member of death squads allegedly sanctioned by Duterte, has said in a detailed affidavit that Davao City’s peace and order fund was used in other ways.
In the 186-page written testimony he submitted to the International Criminal Court in 2020, he listed the following as expenses paid for by the “peace and order” or “intelligence” funds of city, under Duterte.
- Weekly allowance for gas
- Monthly cash allowance of members (called “pakurat”)
- Meals and drinks in various restaurants which were paid for through “signing authority”
- Maintenance and expansion of mass grave area in Laud quarry
Duterte, in his Friday speech, acknowledged the ICC probe into his drug war which had been suspended after a request from his administration.
“I’m now facing a criminal charge sa International Criminal Court. Good. Basta tinupad ko ‘yung trabaho ko, wala na akong pakialam ano na mangyari sa akin,” he said. (As long as I did my job, I don’t care what happens to me.)