Duterte mans up to drug war’s aftermath
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte vowed to continue his war on drugs despite the public outrage sparked by the killing of Grade 11 student Kian Loyd delos Santos, even as the police said they were ready to counter moves to oust the President by a shadowy group that claims to have military men as members.
In a speech before the Air Force dragon boat team in the Palace Tuesday, Duterte said he would not visit Delos Santos’ wake because this would create the misimpression that he was abandoning the police in the anti-crime war that he started.
He added that the war on drugs would continue despite innocent civilians getting killed in the process.
“Sometimes, it can go wrong. But if I do not destroy the drug problem, I will compromise the next generation,” he said, then continued in Filipino. “We don’t know who the next leader will be. The problem is already here, it’s ours to solve,” Duterte said.
“Rise and fall on that issue. If I committed a wrong, then fine. Someday I will face the consequences. I’m ready to face the consequences,” he added.
Duterte acknowledged that the police may have committed mistakes in the killing of Delos Santos, after CCTV footage showed him being dragged by two policemen to the alley where he was shot dead.
But Duterte said he could not visit the wake because it would seem like he was abandoning the police.
“The media asked me if I would go to the wake, and I said no. I have expressed my condolences. If the family accepts them, good. But if they won’t, that’s fine with me,” he said.
“The thing is, I will not go there, because even if it is true, it is under investigation,” Duterte continued. “If I go there, the perception of the public is, maybe it’s true, that’s why the President visited, to apologize. I don’t want that. Because if I go there, I put down the police.”
The President reiterated his vow to let the cops involved go to jail if their liability is proven in court.
“There is an investigation conducted by the NBI. So when the time comes and it’s true [that they erred], there’s nothing we can do. They’ll have to face the consequences,” he said.
On Monday night, Duterte said intelligence information alone that Kian was a drug courier was not enough to pin him down as being part of the illegal drug trade.
Speaking to reporters at a media roundtable in Malacañang Park, Duterte slammed claims by the local police, including PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa that Kian could be a “legitimate target” of anti-drug operations based on information that he was a source of drugs in the neighborhood.
The President said that even intelligence reports could not prove anything in court.
Early that night, Duterte said he would let the National Bureau of Investigation probe the killing, and vowed that the cops behind the death would rot in jail if found guilty.
The President, however, said that there is no room for the police to misinterpret his orders to destroy the drug apparatus, even if this meant killing those who resist arrest.
On Wednesday, PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos said the police are ready to counter a group calling itself Patriotic and Democractic Movement or Padem, which claimed to have police and soldiers in its ranks.
“The full might of the 190,000-strong PNP will stand in the way of any attempt to destabilize government and challenge our earnest resolve to protect the state and its institutions,” he said.
“Law and order will prevail,” Carlos added.
The PNP spokesperson said the top police officials and rank-and-file strongly deny involvement with the group.
“We call on these shadowy groups with sinister motives to please spare the PNP from their delusion of getting any form of support from our ranks. We will never allow the PNP to be used in any move to betray the Constitution and grab power,” Carlos said.
He also added that the PNP remains faithful to the flag, the Constitution, the Filipino people and to its sworn duty to uphold the rule of law; and obey only legal orders of the duly constituted authorities through the chain of Command.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana urged the public to remain calm and wait for the results of the investigation of Delos Santos’ shooting death.
Lorenzana made the statement in the wake of the public outcry following Delos Santos’ death.
“We must allow the investigation into this incident to take its full and proper course,” Lorenzana said late Tuesday.
The Defense chief also stressed that once allegations of foul play are proven, the perpetrators must be brought to justice and be accountable for what they have done.
Lorenzana also assured the family that the implicated police officers, if found guilty of abuses and other lapses, will be punished to the fullest extend of the law as the President has promised.
“I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones of Kian delos Santos,” the DND chief added.
Lorenzana added that Delos Santos did not deserve to die in the manner that he did, even if police claims about his being a drug courier were true.
Earlier, the four officers implicated in the incident, namely PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jeremias Pereda and PO1 Jerwin Cruz and their precinct commander, Chief Insp. Amor Cerillo, were placed under restrictive custody in wake of the ongoing investigations.
The four were earlier ordered relieved over the incident and are now detailed at the National Capital Region Police-Regional Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit pending results of the investigation against them.
CCTV footage contradicted their claims that the Grade 11 student fired at them first, prompting them to shoot back and kill the 17-year-old boy.
Also on Wednesday, Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento said the police’s Internal Affairs Service should be strengthened to become a truly independent body that runs after scalawags and misfits in the police service without fear or favor.
Sarmiento said the IAS should be beyond the influence of all members of the police service, including the PNP chief. With Maricel V. Cruz, PNA