PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday publicly named over 157 judges, mayors, police and military men allegedly involved in narcotics and vowed to release more names of lawmakers and governors in the next wave of revelations.
“Due process has nothing to do with my mouth [statements]. There are no proceedings here, no lawyers,” he said in a pre-dawn speech just before he began listing them.
More than 800 drug suspects have been killed by police or vigilantes since Duterte’s election on May 9, in a campaign which has attracted widespread criticism from rights groups.
The President listed seven judges and over 50 current or former congressmen, mayors and other local officials whom he alleged were involved in illegal drugs.
Duterte ordered their security escorts withdrawn and canceled their firearms permits, adding that they would face sanctions.
Mayors on the list were stripped of their authority to supervise the local police.
Duterte also named about 100 retired or active police officers and soldiers whom he said were involved, and relieved them of duty.
“If you show the slightest violence in the resistance, I will tell the police, ‘Shoot them’,” he told reporters and soldiers in Davao.
He said soldiers and police should immediately surrender to their superiors while the judges should report to the Supreme Court.
Duterte, who has gained widespread domestic popularity for his outspokenness, conceded that he “might be wrong” about the guilt of those he named, and that he would take full responsibility for any mistakes in the information.
He said the military and police had compiled the list, which he insisted was not colored by politics or personal links, adding that some of those named were even his friends.
Duterte’s spokesman Martin Andanar later said that criminal cases would be filed against those named.
“The President is encouraging all of the persons of interest, the alleged drug lords and drug coddlers to come out in the open, to surrender themselves and submit themselves to thorough investigation,” he told reporters.
Some of those named have since come out in media and denied their guilt.
But the dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, Ranhilio Aquino, said Duterte’s announcement could not be used as the basis for their arrest.
“The only thing that is against them is the fact that they were mentioned by the President. There’s no basis for removing them from office,” Aquino said on radio dzMM.
“An elected official can only be removed from his position after hearings, whether administrative or judicial, where they are shown to be guilty,” he added in Filipino.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government said more names of public officials, including congressmen, governors and even barangay captains involved in illegal drugs would soon be announced.
“I’m sure more will be coming because these are not yet complete,” Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno said, referring to the list of names that Duterte released Sunday.
He said incumbent local officials tagged by Duterte may face charges and immediate suspension.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar also said there is another list, but said he did not want to preempt the President.
“Based on what he said...there are other names, and these are still to be confirmed and checked,” Andanar added. “I do not know who are included in the list. The President holds his list close to his chest.”
Duterte won election by vowing to wage a war on illegal drugs and other crime that would claim tens of thousands of lives.
He has ordered police not to hesitate to kill and even urged ordinary citizens and communist guerrillas to join in the bloodshed.
ABS-CBN has listed 852 drug suspects killed since Duterte’s election.
In his speech, Duterte scoffed at human rights groups opposed to the killings, saying they were free to protest.
“I do not care,” he said.
However, the head of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines made an emotional appeal to the public to denounce the wave of drug killings.
“I am a human being. That is all it takes for me to stand up and say ‘enough’,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a message read at all Catholic masses in his archdiocese.
He said the largely Catholic Philippines was becoming a “killing fields nation” for tolerating the violence.
Despite criticism from foreign and local human rights organizations and even UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, surveys have shown Duterte enjoys wide public support.
In his speech, the President said that the illegal drugs menace is a vicious cycle that has reached crisis proportions and has spread like a pandemic nationwide.
He also said that the “most shabu-lized” part of the country is Iloilo, adding that he will soon disclose a next batch of names that will include prosecutors involved in the illegal drugs trade.
The President added that drug use has ballooned because there are public servants who protect the illegal trade.
Records from the Office of the Court Administrator showed that three of the seven judges named by Duterte were no longer active.
Judge Roberto Navidad of Calbayog City, Samar regional trial court, who was named by the President, was killed while buying medicine at a drug store in January 2008.
Judge Lorinda Toledo-Mupas of the Dasmariñas, Cavite RTC was dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2007 for gross ignorance of the law.
The judge’s husband, Judge Jesus Mupas, is still an active judge with Pasay RTC.
Judge Rene Gonzales of Iloilo MTC, has retired.
The Supreme Court declined to issue a statement about the judges that Duterte named.
“We are still verifying exactly what the President said and how he said it. Assuming a statement is necessary it will be released formally,” the Court’s spokesman, Theodore Te said in a text message.
Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa ordered law enforcers included in Duterte’s list to report to their superior officers.
“The PNP personnel detailed with the named local mayor and judges must be report to their respective supervising officers or chiefs of police or office for physical accounting and possible investigation,” PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos said.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said Sunday the surrender of drug users and pushers nationwide could deprive drug trafficking syndicates some P8.22 billion in revenues in the next six months. With Rey E. Requejo, PNA
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