President Rodrigo Duterte’s off-script rant against an alleged cocaine-using presidential candidate has again put the spotlight on the double standard in his bloody drug war that has killed thousands of poor Filipinos but has spared the powerful or well-connected.
Cabinet Secretary and acting Palace spokesperson Karlo Nograles was put on the spot on Friday, November 19, when asked what the Duterte government is doing to investigate the unnamed candidate to prove its commitment to eradicating drugs.
“I’m sure if these are coming from intelligence reports mula sa ating drug enforcement agencies, then it is safe to assume na if may investigation, they are doing everything in their power to catch whoever the pepetrators are,” Nograles said at a Palace press briefing on Friday.
(I’m sure if these are coming from intelligence reports from our drug enforcement agencies, then it is safe to assume that if there is an investigation, they are doing everything in their power to catch whoever the perpetrators are.)
On Thursday night, November 18, Duterte had claimed that a presidential candidate, whom he did not name, was using cocaine and called him a “weak leader” whose character is lackluster “except for the name, his father.”
The references to the prominent name and father fit former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Rappler has asked Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez if they feel alluded to, but has yet to get a response as of posting time. However, he told radio DZRH Friday morning in reply to same question, “We don’t feel alluded to.”
He added in a mix of English and Filipino that the Marcos camp only has “the highest respect for Presidente Duterte.”
The constitutionality of Duterte’s bloody drug war is being challenged for its alleged violations of the Bill of Rights, including the President’s habit of releasing “drug lists” in public. The lists include the names of politicians, generals, and even judges allegedly linked to drugs.
Several studies, including a Rappler investigation, indicate that the people in such questionable drug lists end up dead.
With the President’s habit of exposing personalities with alleged drug links, why then was this presidential candidate not named, Nograles was asked.
“Let’s just wait for the President, kung kailan niya papangalanan, if ever papangalanan niya, nasa discretion ‘yan ng ating Pangulo. It’s up to his sound and wise judgment if it calls for the naming of the person,” said Nograles.
(Let’s just wait for the President, when he will name this person, if ever he will name him, it’s his discretion. It’s up to his sound and wise judgment.)
On Twitter, jailed opposition senator Leila de Lima said: “Kung ganoon, dapat pala siya ang pinakulong mo, hindi ako. Hindi ba kasama ang cocaine sa drug war mo?” (You should have jailed him, not me. Isn’t cocaine part of your drug war?)
“Our law enforcement agencies know what they are doing. Their mandate is clear,” said Nograles in Filipino.
The PDP-Laban faction that is supporting Senator Bong Go’s presidential bid, for its part, said, “President Duterte’s point is simple.”
“He wants the voters to carefully discern their choice of the country’s next leader. That person should be able to guarantee continuity of the Administration’s programs, not just by mere lip service, but by concrete actions,” said Melvin Matibag, PDP-Laban secretary general.
Duterte employed the same strategy ahead of the 2019 elections, when he released a list of alleged narcopoliticians – the 3rd drug list released by the Duterte administration. The first included judges, mayors, and police officials published in August 2016, while the second was a list of barangay officials issued just weeks before the barangay elections in May 2018.
The President never included a personality who fit the description of the supposed cocaine-using presidential candidate in any of those lists. – Rappler.com