By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter
Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s claim that a wealthy presidential aspirant was a cocaine user was based on intelligence reports, his spokesman said on Friday
“The President, of course, has access to many sources including intel reports,” acting presidential spokesman Karlo Alexei B. Nograles told a televised news briefing.
He said law enforcers were probably investigating the presidential candidate now whom Mr. Duterte described as a weak leader. The President also said his only claim to fame is his father’s name.
Mr. Nograles said there are no holy cows in the administration’s war on drugs.
“We do not look at social rank or status,” he said in Filipino. “As long as they’re involved in drugs, we will charge them, arrest them, prosecute them.” Mr. Duterte might name the presidential candidate soon.
Critics have slammed the tough-talking leader for not immediately acting on the report. They said he could have ordered the arrest of the official.
“It is a bit of common knowledge who he is referring to and yet, in the last five years in office, no action was taken until the fellow decided to run for president,” Edwin Lacierda, a former spokesman of the late President Benigno S.C. Aquino III tweeted. “The question is why didn’t you do anything about it?”
The treatment shows that there is a “double-standard with regard to the war on drugs,” said former lawmaker Lorenzo R. Tanada III. “The poor become victims and sometimes killed while the rich get only killed by his words,” he tweeted.
Senator Leila M. De Lima is still on trial for allegedly allowing the illegal drug trade to flourish in the country’s jails when she was still Justice secretary.
Witnesses against Ms. de Lima, who was arrested while heading an investigation by a Senate panel into alleged atrocities committed during Mr. Duterte’s drug war, were drug convicts serving time at the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.
“While unnamed, it’s pretty obvious who he’s referring to,” Ms. de Lima tweeted. “If that’s true, you should have jailed him, not me,” she said in Filipino, addressing Mr. Duterte.
“Isn’t cocaine included in your drug war?” she asked.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ordered an investigation of Mr. Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs that has killed thousands, saying crimes against humanity might have been committed.
Critics have said that Mr. Duterte’s run for a Senate seat is yet another attempt to evade accountability from the United Nations-backed tribunal.
Meanwhile, Mr. Duterte said his political party could not forge an alliance with Lakas-CMD because it is backing the presidential run of the only son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.
“I don’t think he’s good, he is a weak leader,” he said in mixed English and Filipino at a taped party meeting aired on Friday, referring to ex-Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. “That’s true and I’m not trying to slander anyone. He’s really weak because he’s a spoiled child and an only son.”
Victor D. Rodriguez, Mr. Marcos’s lawyer and chief of staff, did not immediately reply to a text message seeking comment.
The former lawmaker, who lost in the 2016 vice-presidential race, is running in tandem with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the president’s daughter who is running for vice-president.