UP to 10,000 government officials are in President Rodrigo Duterte’s validated list of people involved in the illegal drug trade, Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Sunday.
During a San Beda College Law alumni homecoming on Saturday, Duterte said he might submit the list to the National Security Council and Congress before the end of the month.
“I will give each of them a copy… then let us formulate how to prevent disaster for the next generation,” Duterte said.
Panelo, during an interview over ANC, said he saw the folders that contained 5,000 to 10,000 names of government officials, including barangay officials, mayors, governors, members of the judiciary and prosecutors.
“There are about 10,000 people, government officials involved. That means that the magnitude and depth of the drug menace is so much, so huge, that public safety is now in danger,” Panelo said.
Panelo said the huge number of narco-politicians poses a threat to public safety.
Panelo again raised the possibility that the President would suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
Panelo defied the constitutional restriction that the writ may only be suspended on two grounds—rebellion and invasion—and argued that similar circumstances could be considered in declaring a suspension.
Earlier this month, Duterte had already said he might suspend the writ if lawlessness in Mindanao continued—and drew a backlash of protest.
Under the Constitution, the President may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus only in cases of invasion or rebellion and when public safety requires it.
“Some are arguing that there is no invasion and neither is there rebellion but he [Duterte] is saying that drug money is being used to fund the rebellion in Mindanao therefore there is a rebellion,” Panelo said.
Panelo said critics are looking at the Constitution “literally.”
“You cannot limit the President on two grounds of invasion and rebellion. Any circumstance similar or akin to those grounds, I think the President and I think the Supreme Court will do so,” he said.
On Saturday, Duterte warned drug suspects to stay inside their homes or he would kill them personally as a “permanent solution” to illegal drugs.
“How do we make it permanent? Well, in the coming days, I will make it a mass… a mandate that, all of you drug suspects, do not go outside of your homes,” said Duterte, in Filipino, during a speech at the San Beda Law Grand Alumni Homecoming.
“I will not lock you up, go inside of your houses and lock your doors. If you go out, p***** ina kayo, I will kill you,” Duterte said.
Among those who attended the event was former President Fidel Ramos, whom Duterte referred to as “my number one critic and number one supporter.”
In the audience, Ramos stood up, raised his hands in fist resembling Duterte’s signature campaign pose, jumped and gave a thumbs-up sign.
Duterte then observed, “Dissent and criticism would make this democratic country healthy.”
Ramos was instrumental in convincing Duterte to run in the May elections and was appointed by the President as the Philippines’ special envoy to China in July.
However, Ramos also hurled a string of criticism against the President’s performance in his first 100 days, his stance on the Paris climate pact, and his move to allow the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Ramos resigned as envoy to China in October.
Others present were former Chief Justice Artermio Panganiban; Avelino Cruz; Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea; Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre; members of the Cabinet; and officers, trustees, and members of the San Beda Law alumni association.
Duterte said, at the start of the campaign and even when he was mayor, that drugs would destroy the country.
The President also identified generals who were involved in the drug trade and warned them.
“When I become president, I will run after you and there is still time, maybe you want to quit now that I am not yet president,” he said at the time.
When he became president, he added, he was horrified that there were thousands in government involved in illegal drugs.
“How do I investigate them one at a time—and even if I file charges, I would have to get some evidence. I will never accomplish that duty,” he said.
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