PaoloDuterte (left) and lawyer Manases Carpio —INQUIRER PHOTO
DAVAO CITY — The investigators should be independent and their findings credible.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night said that was the reason he could not order an investigation into the alleged involvement of members of his family in illegal drugs.
Speaking to reporters at Davao International Airport after arriving from a two-day visit to Japan, Mr. Duterte said independent agencies could instead look into the alleged drug ties of his son, Davao Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and son-in-law, lawyer Manases Carpio, and he would not meddle in the investigation.
“Who would believe me if I investigate my son and my son-in-law? Leave it to the independent agencies,” Mr. Duterte said.
‘Fictitious drug lords’
Earlier, detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima slammed Mr. Duterte for going after “imagined and fictitious drug lords” instead of pursuing his family members being linked to the illegal drug trade.
“Duterte is not interested in catching real drug lords. He is merely using his notorious drug war as a platform for vengeance against the political opposition, including LP (Liberal Party) stalwarts Sen. Frank Drilon and former DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) Secretary Mar Roxas,” De Lima, also an LP member, said in a statement.
Mr. Duterte and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II should “stop going after their imagined and fictitious drug lords, whether Senator Drilon, Secretary Roxas, (Iloilo City) Mayor (Jed) Mabilog, or myself,” she said.
Earlier, a confessed bagman for the Berya drug cartel, Ricky Serenio claimed that Drilon, Roxas and Mabilog were drug protectors.
Aguirre said Serenio’s affidavit would be treated as a complaint.
De Lima said the evidence against Vice Mayor Duterte and Carpio were glaring but President Duterte looked the other way.
The names of the vice mayor and Carpio came up several times during the Senate’s investigation of a recent attempt to smuggle “shabu” (crystal meth) worth P6.4 billion through the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
During a hearing called by the Senate blue ribbon committee on the shabu shipment from China on Aug. 7, customs broker Mark Taguba claimed that he paid off “aides” of BOC officials to speed up the processing of his shipment papers.
Taguba also said the aides were part of the “Davao Group,” which included someone he identified only as “vice mayor.”
On Aug. 10, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV released documents that he claimed proved Vice Mayor Duterte was involved in corruption at the BOC.
On Aug. 29, Trillanes accused Carpio, husband of Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, and the vice mayor of being behind the Davao Group that facilitated smuggling at the bureau.
Trillanes also said Carpio was getting a share of the “tara,” or payola, at the BOC.
On Sept. 1, Taguba released a statement “to clear” Vice Mayor Duterte and Carpio of “any involvement” in drug smuggling and any irregularities at the BOC.
But during a hearing on Sept. 7, Trillanes showed pictures of the vice mayor with Kenneth Dong, who facilitated the release from the BOC of cargo that turned out to be the shabu from China; the vice mayor with alleged triad member Charlie Tan; and the vice mayor with Carpio, Tan and Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera.
Abellera was allegedly close to the vice mayor and to whom Taguba said he gave P5 million to facilitate the release of his shipments.
Trillanes also accused Vice Mayor Duterte of being a triad member.
Both the vice mayor and Carpio denied the accusations.
The blue ribbon committee eventually recommended the filing of criminal charges against 13 people, including former BOC chief Nicanor Faeldon and three of his officials over the shabu shipment.
No charges were recommended against Vice Mayor Duterte and Carpio.
The controversy, however, has refused to go away.
For credible probe
In his talk with reporters on Tuesday night, Mr. Duterte said the Commission on Human Rights, “which has been making all the noise,” or the National Bureau of Investigation could investigate his relatives’ involvement in drug smuggling or corruption.
The President said he would accept it if his son and son-in-law would be found guilty.
“Did I tell you when I was still mayor, what was my order to the police? Shoot him even if he’s my son. That statement remains. Shoot [him] if he’s using drugs, possessing drugs. Extrajudicial killing if you want and I can understand,” Mr. Duterte said.
The President then went on to say that he had sacked several members of his Cabinet and other officials close to him over their apparent involvement in irregularities.
“If you can have them jailed, you send them to jail,” he said. —With a report from Inquirer Research