DAVAO CITY—President-in-waiting Rodrigo Duterte called a midnight press conference on Thursday to scold the police over the drug-related deaths of five young people in a Pasay City concert last weekend.
Saying the deaths were caused by a failure of police intelligence, Duterte announced he would implement a massive reshuffle in the Philippine National Police and threatened to assign Metro Manila law enforcers to far-flung stations to instill duty and discipline among them.
“I was forced to do a press conference because of what happened. Nobody is talking about the incident, something that could convey to the public the anger of the parents over what happened,” a fuming Duterte told reporters at the Royal Mandaya Hotel here.
“There are many government people in Manila—I am addressing myself to the police and law enforcement as a mayor and as a citizen of this republic, there are many people there yet the PDEA [Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency], the police community, the national government and the local government unit of Pasay [were clueless]. How could this contraband slip inside the concert venue?”
“It’s a failure of intelligence,” Duterte said.
“Where’s the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation], their anti-drug units or whatever that agency is called? Where’s the police? Where’s the PDEA? They knew that if it’s a rock concert or there were bands playing, many assholes would bring illegal substances. I’m just guessing it was just passed on to everybody. Why are there so many people who died [in the concert]?”
Early Sunday morning, five people died—four males and one female—after they were found unconscious during the “Closeup Forever Summer” 12-hour outdoor concert at the Mall of Asia concert grounds in Pasay City.
While the police initially said they were looking at heatstroke or dehydration, witnesses said there were people selling a potent drug called “Green Amore” and using inhalers, which were being distributed among the concert-goers.
Police reports identified the fatalities as Bianca Fontejon, 18; Eric Anthony Miller, 33, an American; Ariel Leal, 22; and Lance Garcia, 36. A fifth victim, Ken Migawa, 18, later died at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Pasay.
An initial autopsy showed there were signs of a drug overdose in two of the victims.
Duterte, who ran on a platform of curbing criminality and the use of drugs, slammed the authorities for their negligence and question the funds allotted to them. He said the police failure to notice the drug dealers during the event was unacceptable.
“The problem is that law enforcement failed,” he said. Once he becomes president on June 30, he said, he would scrutinize where the funds for intelligence and operations go.
“Those who are working are paid to prevent these incidents from happening,” he said.
“Why would you give salaries to underperforming people? This time, every government worker must prove to the Filipino people that they deserve their salary. I will prove that I deserve to be paid.”
A former presidential adviser on public order under the Arroyo administration, Duterte has warned of a shakeup at the PNP, the NBI and the Bureau of Corrections.
Duterte also hit his nemesis, former Justice secretary and senator-elect Leila de Lima, saying he would investigate her for failing to control the spread of drugs and illegal activities at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
“There will be a massive reshuffle so I am putting a notice now to everybody. All of you from Muntinlupa, you ship out. Be ready. Pack up,” he said.
Earlier, Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said the mayor would not be in Congress for his proclamation, noting that he did not have to be physically present to be proclaimed president of the republic.
He said Duterte would show up for his inauguration on June 30, however.