MANILA (PhilAmPress) – President Rodrigo Duterte is determined to break up the country’s drug syndicates and eliminate the drug menace affecting many Filipinos, especially the youth, as he called for the restoration for death penalty on illegal drugs manufacture and distribution among other heinous crimes.
At the same time, Duterte said at least 32 mayors and local officials have been identified as involved in the illegal drug trade even as he vowed to name more leaders and members of drug syndicates operating in the country warning them to stop their illicit trade, disappear or be killed.
This as more than 300 suspected drug dealers and users, including some policemen, have been killed in the crackdown against illegal drugs since Mr. Duterte assumed office, with thousands of drug pushers and users surrendering to police and local authorities and vowed not drop the vice.
Meanwhile, a suspected drug lord named by President Duterte involved in the illegal drugs triad operation voluntarily surrendered at the office of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) XI in Davao City Friday night to clear his name.
But President Duterte told Peter Lim, a Cebuano-Chinese businessman to go to an investigating agency and have his case probed to prove that he is not the “Peter Lim” identified as the Visayan member of the triad.
Lim denied to Duterte he has connections with drug syndicates in China or at one time talked to people involved in illegal drugs in China.
Lim admitted to Duterte on reports that he had been in and out of the country but for a vacation with his family especially during Holy Week.
While he accepted Lim’s explanation for now, the President however warned Lim he could be killed if government found out he was involved in illegal drugs.
Lim admitted he was once investigated in a Congressional hearing called by then Representative Cuenco.
Given this, the President told Lim to go to an investigating agency like the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila. “If you have the time, you may want to bring along a lawyer,” Mr. Duterte advised Lim. Lim could even confront people who have accused him for illegal drugs involvement.
Duterte said the NBI would review the evidence against Peter Lim, whose name always crops up as the one who frequently travels outside of Manila.
“We want to help you…help us clear you,” Duterte told Lim, who also expressed willingness to help the administration in its anti-illegal drugs campaign.
“I am with you all the way gyud (really) Mr. President,” Lim said.
“I could clear up everything because my family is really in deep problem now in Cebu…In any way I will help, in all my ways I can,” Lim has told Duterte during the meeting which was covered by RTVM.
In a press conference Saturday morning at PDEA office, PDEA Deputy Director General Isidro Lapena confirmed that Lim is the same person in PDEA’s rogue gallery involved in illegal drugs trade.
This followed the revelation by the President that billions of pesos worth of drug-related transactions are being conducted inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City and this is partly due to protection given by police authorities, some of them generals identified by Duterte.
Solicitor General Jose Calida disclosed that there are five-tiers in the illegal drugs trade in the country and the top, the level 5, involves pushers who are able to sell 100 kilograms or more of illegal drugs per transaction.
The big number of those killed in the illegal drugs crackdown prompted Senator Leila de Lima to call for a congressional probe which immediately was shot down, however, by Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former police chief, who said the police authorities to be given the chance to eliminate the drugs menace even as he warned the policemen against violating human rights and the laws.
Vice President Leni Robredo also called for an investigation into the rising number of people killed by the police in anti-drug operations.
She noted that there have been over a hundred cases of drug-related killings in less than a month.
Robredo said while she supports President Duterte’s fight against illegal drugs, it must be done without compromising the rule of law.
“While we are one with the fight against drugs, we are concerned with the growing culture of vigilantism and violence. We hope that the war is not done at the expense of the innocent and defenseless,” Robredo, a lawyer by profession, said.
“We encourage authorities concerned to look into these cases. If there is really culpability, then justice requires that appropriate cases be filed and that those proven to be accountable be punished,” she said.
Robredo became an official Cabinet member after she was recently appointed by Duterte as
Robredo said she believes that the President, being a lawyer and former prosecutor, will do what is appropriate.