Opposition senatorial candidates Samira Gutoc and Gary Alejano. INQUIRER PHOTOS
MANILA, Philippines — The claim of sacked Police Colonel Eduardo Acierto that two Chinese nationals close to President Rodrigo Duterte were involved in the illegal drug trade needs “objective and thorough investigation,” opposition senatorial candidates under the Otso Diretso banner said Tuesday.
In a statement, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano called on involved local authorities and international institutions to look into the matter, stressing that the issue “should not be dismissed by just attacking the credibility of the messenger.”
READ: Ex-police official: Duterte photographed with drug-linked Chinese
“It is a grave concern that an intelligence report detailing the involvement of Michael Yang and Allan Lim to the illegal drug trade was not acted upon by the PNP, PDEA, and Malacañang considering that the war on drugs is the central policy of the Duterte administration,” Alejano pointed out.
Appearing before select members of the media on Sunday, Acierto said presidential economic adviser Michael Yang and a Chinese national Allan Lim “have involvement in the drug trade.”
READ: Ex-cop linked to P11-B ‘shabu’ smuggling fears for life
Alejano shared Acierto’s statement that it was an irony that the latter’s intelligence report was not acted upon.
“If the President was really mad about illegal drugs, why did he not order (Yang and Lim) arrested? Or even just have them investigated?” Acierto reportedly said.
Marawi civic leader and peace advocate Samira Gutoc, meanwhile, lamented how the poor people were “easily tagged in the narcotics trade while big businessmen who are close to those in power enjoy the benefit of the doubt.”
“While many poor and powerless are being easily targeted in operations, those big businessmen who are close to those in power enjoy due process, benefit of the doubt,” Gutoc said, adding that this “raises alarm and many questions on the authenticity of the government’s drug war.”
Alejano said he had filed House Resolution No. 542 pushing for the creation of an independent ad hoc committee on the anti-drug campaign in a bid to “study the root causes of illegal drugs and propose an appropriate, effective and humane strategy to address the issue.”
In a speech on Sunday night, Duterte admitted that the drug problem in the country had “worsened” despite his brutal war against drugs, fearing that the Philippines might end up like the drug cartel-controlled parts of Mexico. In October 2018, the Chief Executive denied Yang was involved in the drug trade.
READ: Duterte: Drug problem in PH has ‘worsened’
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, downplayed Acierto’s claim saying he just “wants to get back.”
“Obviously, the motive is since he’s [Acierto] been accused of involvement in drugs, he wants to get back. That’s why he’s pointing fingers to whomever,” Panelo said in a briefing. /jpv
READ: Palace: Duterte will ‘kill’ Michael Yang if he’s into illegal drugs
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