MANILA, Philippines – After presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte was implicated in drug smuggling, opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV released documents anew linking the former to illegal shipments.
Trillanes re-sent these on Thursday, August 10. These same documents, however, were first released during the 2016 presidential campaign.
A memorandum dated December 7, 2007, from the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG), stated that the younger Duterte was responsible for the smuggling of sport utility vehicles (SUVs), luxury vehicles, rice, sugar, and used clothes into Davao City.
The PASG memo was signed by Rosauro Bautista, PASG Team-Leader 2 and addressed to Deputy Director for Intelligence Ruel Lasala.
The memo echoed the report contained in the National Bureau of Investigation's "disposition form" dated December 4, 2007.
"Millions of taxes that should be collected by the government are lost due to the rampant and bold smuggling activities being undertaken right [under] the nose of concerned government agencies by this group," the memorandum stated.
Paolo Duterte allegedly did this with his "business partner" Glen Escandor, a "son" of a Colonel Escandor and owner of Mandaya Hotel.
"[They] are business partners in smuggling activities and are responsible [for] the proliferation of smuggled SUVs and high end cars in the area. The place of origin of these vehicles are from Japan and United States of America. These partners even have their showroom at Genesis located at Pacific Drive near SM Davao City," the memo said.
Aside from car smuggling, Escandor, Paolo Duterte, and – according to the PASG and the NBI documents – "his Muslim wife" were also supposedly involved in the illegal importation of used clothes (ukay-ukay), rice, and sugar, through the Port of Davao.
These were allegedly done without necessary import permits from the Sugar Regulatory Administration and the National Food Authority.
The memo stated that the group allegedly utilized the services of a certain Judith and broker firm Rose Caballero Brokerage. A certain Toti Cabaniog also supposedly facilitated the transactions at the Bureau of Customs through BOC collector John Tan.
Drug smuggling, recurring 'hearsay'?
It was not the first time the younger Duterte was linked to illegal acts, with some consumer groups openly accusing him of smuggling in his city as early as the 2016 presidential campaign.
In marathon Senate hearings in 2016, self-confessed hitman and Davao Death Squad member Edgar Matobato and retired cop Arthur Lascañas accused the presidential son of masterminding drug smuggling and protecting drug lords.
President Duterte, who has vowed to eradicate illegal drugs through his bloody drug war, has said he would resign if any of his children is proven to be corrupt.
Malacañang, for its part, stood by the President's statement when asked for comment.
"As far as I know, his general sentiment has been that should these things be proven, that he would resign, he would step down from the presidency. So the choice is commitment to corruption-free government. That includes also his children," Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org