Why is cocaine-using candidate still free? Duterte says ‘the rich take drugs on yachts, in the air’

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 22 2021 08:37 PM | Updated as of Nov 22 2021 08:55 PM

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President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech at the Bulwagang Panlalawigan, Provincial Capitol Complex in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro on Nov. 18, 2021. Toto Lozano, Presidential Photo/File
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech at the Bulwagang Panlalawigan, Provincial Capitol Complex in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro on Nov. 18, 2021. Toto Lozano, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday brought up wealthy people’s lifestyle as he addressed concerns on why a presidential contender he accused of using an addictive stimulant drug gets off scot-free.

Duterte last week claimed that a wealthy presidential aspirant, whom he described as a “weak leader”, supposedly uses cocaine. The Philippine National Police on Monday said it was investigating the President’s allegation. 

“Totoo ‘yan, there’s a candidate who was using cocaine. And you can ask ‘yong mga mayaman,” Duterte said in a speech when he inspected airport and seaport improvements in General Santos City. 

“Sabihin ng pulis, ‘Bakit hindi natin hinuli, bakit hindi mo hinuli, Presidente?’ Hindi mo alam ang mga mayaman. They go on a yacht, yate, or in the air, doon sila magsupsop ng ano nila,” he continued. 

(That is true, there’s a candidate who was using cocaine. And you can ask rich people. Police will ask, why did we not arrest, why did you not arrest him, President? You do not know the rich. They go on a yacht or in the air, they take their drugs there.) 

Duterte, who waged a deadly war on drugs since assuming power in 2016, has not named nor cited evidence against the allegedly drug-tainted candidate.

“If you do not believe it, well, leave it that way. Basta, sinabi ko. Let it not be said later on that I did not tell you,” he said. “Alam mo ang tao, kailangan may kaunting disiplina. May kagaguhan man kami, ako mismo, pero may limit ako, may boundary ako. I do not cross it.”

(If you do not believe it, well, leave it that way. But I already told you about it… People should have some discipline. We have our faults—me, too—but I have a limit. I have a boundary.)

Duterte is backing the presidential bid of his longtime aide, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go.

The other aspirants include Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, and former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr..

More than 90 individuals filed their COC for president next year, but the Commission on Elections will trim the list to remove those it finds as nuisance. The final list is expected in the coming weeks.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.489.0_en.html#goog_405695261

Why is cocaine-using candidate still free? Duterte says ‘the rich take drugs on yachts, in the air’

SNUBBING ICC

Malacañang earlier denied that Duterte’s claim against the presidential candidate showed his anti-narcotics campaign was anti-poor and does not go after the wealthy. 

“Wala po tayong sinasanto dito, walang pinipiling social rank o status,” Duterte’s acting spokesman Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said of the drug crackdown. 

“Lahat po ‘yan, basta sangkot sa droga ay kakasuhan natin, huhulihin natin, ipo-prosecute po natin,” he said in a press briefing. 

(There are no sacred cows here, we do not look at social rank or status. As long as they are involved in drugs, we will file charges against them, arrest them, prosecute them.) 
 
The International Criminal Court in September approved a probe into thousands of killings under Duterte’ drug war. Analysts say it is crucial for a loyal successor to shield him from legal charges. 

Referring to the ICC, Duterte in his latest speech said, “I will not, for the life of me, face a tribunal tapos (then) with the judges there, are all whites.”

Contrary to the President’s remark, ICC’s 18 judges are of various nationalities. They belong to parties of the Rome Statue of the ICC, including European, Latin American, African, and Asian states.

The chief prosecutor of the ICC confirmed last week that it suspended the drug war probe at Manila’s request. The Philippines cited its own investigation into the drug killings. 

“The prosecution has temporarily suspended its investigative activities while it assesses the scope and effect of the deferral request,” ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan wrote, adding that it would seek additional information from the Philippines.

Duterte, 76, pulled the Philippines out of the ICC in 2018 and has said the international court has no jurisdiction to indict him. The ICC maintains it has jurisdiction to investigate crimes committed while Manila was a member up until 2019.

The Manila request for the deferral follows repeated statements by the Duterte government that it would not cooperate with the ICC.

“I would welcome a prosecutor who is a Filipino to indict me. Pero kung sabihin na bigyan mo ako ng puti, kalokohan ‘yan,” Duterte said in his latest speech.

(But if you say that you’ll give me a Caucasian, that is foolishness.)

A Philippine lawyers group called on the ICC not to remove the glimmer of hope for families of drug-war victims.

“We ask the ICC not to allow itself to be swayed by the claims now being made by the Duterte administration,” the National Union of People’s Lawyers, which represents some victims’ families, said in a statement.

The Philippine justice system is “extremely slow and unavailing to the majority of poor and unrepresented victims”, it said.

Human Rights Watch said the government’s claim that existing domestic mechanisms afford citizens justice was absurd. “Let’s hope the ICC sees through the ruse that it is,” Brad Adam, its Asia director, said in a statement.

— With a report from Reuters 

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