INCREASINGLY under fire for a bloody war on drugs that has claimed the lives of teenagers, President Rodrigo Duterte last week accused politicians and drug lords of sabotaging his anti-narcotics campaign.
The recent killings apparently targeting the youth “should be viewed with suspicion and urgency,” a Palace spokesman said Saturday, referring to the deaths of Kian delos Santos, 17; Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19; and Reynaldo de Guzman, 14.
As often is the case with this President, we are uncertain about what he truly means. Does he mean that there are politicians who are capitalizing on these deaths and using them as an issue against him?
We have no issue with this interpretation, since we see this happening, particularly among senators belonging to the opposition Liberal Party, one of which went to the extent of taking witnesses into her custody—when this is clearly within the jurisdiction of the Justice department, through its witness protection program.
On the other hand, the more alarming interpretation of the President’s remarks is that he was clearing the police of responsibility for the killings, and blaming them instead on shadowy saboteurs who go around killing teenagers and pinning the deaths on policemen, just to derail Mr. Duterte’s anti-drug war.
Such a notion would be absurd, had it not come from the mouth of the President, who told his chief of police to examine the deaths more closely because he was being sabotaged.
Referring specifically to the 14-year-old De Guzman, who was found floating in a creek with 30 stab wounds and his face wrapped in packaging tape, the President declared this could not have been the work of police.
“That’s intentional,” he said in Filipino. “You know the police, they will shoot… but they wouldn’t wrap a suspect’s head—that is not the job of the police. It’s nonsense.”
With all due respect, what is nonsensical is to immediately rule out the possibility that police were involved without any evidence one way or another.
Is Mr. Duterte saying we should absolve the police of the killing of Delos Santos, as well, despite several eyewitness accounts that said they executed the boy?
We respectfully remind the President that it was also not the job of police to kidnap South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo, strangle him inside police headquarters in Camp Crame, cremate his body to get rid of the evidence, then still try to extort money from his widow by making her believe he was still alive. But they still did it.
If there is anyone sabotaging Mr. Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, it is the dirty cops who are having a field day because this President’s knee-jerk reaction is to clear them of any wrongdoing, regardless of the evidence.