Sara Duterte

Sara Duterte distances from ex-city info chief’s drug raid mess

Bea Cupin
Sara Duterte distances from ex-city info chief’s drug raid mess

DAVAO CITY CHIEF. Mayor Sara Duterte

Official Facebook page of Mayor Inday Sara Duterte

'The details of the raid are known only to the PDEA officers in Davao de Oro and Ms. Tupas,' says the Davao mayor

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on Tuesday, November 9, distanced herself from former City Information Officer Jefry Tupas, who was at a party that became the subject of drug raid in Mabini town, Davao de Oro, over the weekend.

“The details of the raid are known only to the PDEA officers in Davao de Oro and Ms. Tupas,” Sara said in a statement. 

On Saturday, November 6, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) raided a beach party in Mabini town that yielded an estimated P1.5 million worth of drugs.

Tupas, among Sara’s closest aides in city hall, was at the party but supposedly left before the PDEA arrived. Tupas is not listed as any of those arrested during the operation, which was held jointly with local police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). 

Tupas earlier confirmed to Rappler that she was at the party but left at 8 pm or around an hour before law enforcers conducted the raid. She also told Rappler that she had “not yet” resigned from her post but was on scheduled leave. She said she had “messaged” Sara about the incident and her presence at the party but the mayor had yet to respond to her. 

According to Sara, however, Tupas resigned on Sunday, November 7, or the day after the Mabini drug raid. “Last Sunday, Jefry signified [her] resignation and on the same moment [she] was informed that [she] is terminated from work with the City Government of Davao,” said Duterte. 

(Note: Jefry uses she/her pronouns.)

Tupas had been Davao City’s chief information officer since Sara was elected mayor in 2016, succeeding her father who was elected president in the same year.

Tupas had also played a key role in President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2016 presidential campaign. 

Tupas’ alleged involvement in the Mabini highlighted what critics have long pointed out as inconsistencies in President Duterte’s supposed hardline stance against illegal drugs and crime, in general.

Among President Duterte’s chief campaign talk points in 2016 was the promise to “eradicate” drugs in the country in three to six months – which he later admitted was impossible to achieve even within his term. Duterte’s bloody drug war is the subject of an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation. 

While the national police have said that over 6,000 people have been killed in anti-drug operations, human rights advocates and groups have estimated that between 12,000 to 30,000 people have been slain in the name of the President’s drug war, either in police operations or in summary killings by supposed vigilante groups. –

Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.