EIGHT congressmen are included in the final narco-list being validated by President Rodrigo Duterte of alleged drug personalities, a senior Cabinet official said Tuesday.
The President on Tuesday named Iligan City politicians Rep. Vicente Belmonte and Mayor Lawrence Cruz as being involved in the illegal drug trade in Region 10.
Before the President’s departure for Cambodia and Singapore, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said that there were eight congressmen included in the thickest list of narco-politicians that Duterte would release soon.
“The list is being validated,” Esperon said.
Earlier, Duterte said he included House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III in the National Security Council, citing the extent and depth of the drug problem.
“God help me but I cannot… I was talking to the Speaker. I included him in the National Security Council and I said, I cannot handle this on my own. And even if Congress would give me carpet authority to kill everybody, I won’t have the time nor the bullets to do it,” Duterte said Monday.
“You must be put on notice now. It’s better that you know how horrifying it is, this drug industry,” he said.
Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo had earlier said that Duterte’s “validated” list of alleged drug personalities contains more than 5,000 names of government officials.
Duterte had announced that he has given the legislative branch a copy of the drug list, which is still being validated by authorities.
In his speech before members of the Wallace Business Forum on Monday, Duterte named Belmonte and Cruz as being involved in illegal drugs.
“You want a visual thing? This is the drug industry of the Philippines. You know what, it’s there: Region 10, Mindanao. So many congressman there, if you have a good sight, one mayor, ex-mayor, another mayor, another mayor. Each page is with a list of names. You know how many? Six thousand mayors and—it’s there, Representative Vicente [Belmonte], Mayor Lawrence [Cruz],” Duterte said.
Duterte warned that his shame campaign against narco-politicians would lead to an eventual prosecution of these two officials.
On Tuesday, however, Duterte took a sharp departure from his hardline approach and asked medical workers to treat addicts in their homes and communities, using a P1 billion fund from gambling profits.
Duterte announced his plan for the Social Welfare Department to buy medicines, such as tranquilizers and drug control medicines to help in the rehabilitation of drug users even in their own neighborhoods.
“Just wait there in your houses,” he said, addressing drug addicts. “I’m just holding my cash and you can buy your medicines. For example, the tranquilizers, the medicines that would keep you calm, medicines that would restore your sanity if we can reverse your condition. You just stay in the house and I will order the medical workers all around the country to go around the areas.”
Earlier, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation donated P5 billion to aid the President’s third phase of the drug war, which involves the rehabilitation of an estimated 4 million Filipinos who are using illegal drugs.
Duterte reiterated that drug addicts should stay in their homes and wait for medical intervention to avoid getting caught.
“Really it’s a combination of depression and—but it’s expensive. But I hope that one billion would go a long way to treat you this Christmas,” the President said.
Duterte joked that he would give drug addicts rope for them to hang themselves if they won’t change.
“If they refuse to be treated, and the body cannot be relieved, cannot be returned to its normal mental faculties, I would ask [medical officers] to bring rope. Just hang yourselves you sons of bitches,” he added.
In an earlier speech, Duterte suggested that critics of his bloody anti-drug campaign to join his “adopt-an-addict” program.
“If you bleeding hearts really want to stop the violence, just adopt an addict,” he said.
Duterte had repeatedly spoken about the government’s lack of funds for rehabilitation centers since the 2016 budget they are working with was prepared by the previous administration.
He bristled at critics accusing him of not recognizing the importance of rehabilitating drug addicts.
Duterte said that, by adopting addicts, his critics would know about “perdition.”
The group Human Rights Watch on Tuesday urged Duterte to stop threatening lawyers of drug suspects.
“Duterte’s threats against lawyers and human rights defenders constitute a dangerous extension of his abusive ‘war on drugs’ that has already resulted in more than 5,000 killings,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Duterte’s efforts to intimidate lawyers, human rights defenders, and lawmakers demonstrate that he’s willing to extend his abusive ‘war on drugs’ from the slaughter of criminal suspects to anyone who might object to that bloodletting,” Kine said.
“The sinister lesson of Duterte’s first six months in office is that the groups and individuals he publicly identifies as legitimate targets in his drug war all too often end up dead, in high numbers,” Kine added. “Unless Duterte walks back those threats, his government will bury the rule of law along with the thousands of suspected criminals killed since he took office on June 30.”
At a public event on Dec. 7, Duterte said that drug suspects were able to post bail and avoid prosecution because they have “good, high-profile lawyers.”
“Even their lawyers, I will include them,” said Duterte said.
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