THE mistake committed by President Rodrigo Duterte in naming public officials allegedly involved in illegal drug operations in the country should serve as a lesson to the President that he should refrain from releasing to the public unverified information.
According to political analyst Ramon Casiple, the President is the only one who should be blamed for the gaffe because he was the one who released the wrong information to the public despite having the resources and means to verify it first.
“He could counter check the information given to him with other agencies before making any public announcement,” Casiple said in an interview.
The political analyst was referring to Duterte’s recent admission about the erroneous inclusion of former Pangasinan governor and now Rep. Amado Espino, dismissed Pangasinan provincial administrator Rafael Baraan, and Pangasinan board member Raul Sison in the so-called drug matrix prepared by intelligence officials.
Casiple sees the lapses as a cause for concern, noting that if the President and his intelligence people could make a mistake on small matters, it is also possible that they could commit blunders on more serious matters.
In fact in the past several weeks, the President made a lot of comments and pronouncements that were later clarified by his officials or withdrawn by Duterte himself.
Such practice of the President, Casiple said, also made the usual protocol of the office inapplicable particularly the one about the President having the last word on issues.
“There are many instances wherein the first word will come from the President and his officials will be the one who will explain. That is why for me the best approach is to give more attention to his actions instead of his words,” Casiple said.
The incident, he said, also made a dent on Duterte’s credibility, but because of his high ratings at present, it would not have any effect on the President.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said an immediate review of the “drug list” was in order following the admission of the President regarding the mistake in the drug matrix.
“It goes without saying that the credibility of that list and all other narco-lists involving other sectors for that matter has now become doubtful,” Lacson noted.
The senator at the same time insisted that an intelligence report must be treated as “confidential,” “Secret” or
“Top Secret” document, depending on its security classification.
A narco-list, he added, is a product of an intelligence workshop and is disseminated only to personnel with the corresponding security clearance. Making it public would not only warn those in the list and jeopardize any ongoing intelligence operations but would also unnecessarily shame them or put their lives at risk.
It would also be unfair to those who may not be correctly tagged as committing wrongdoings.
“As I said, the President or any official making a classified document public is ill-advised and will not serve the purpose for which it was prepared,” Lacson added.
As for Sen. Leila de Lima, Duterte’s apology was a clear admission that there was really nothing in the drug matrix that would link her to the illegal drug trade.
According to her, it is unfortunate to find out that the highest official of the land has not only been fed lies and wrong information but also has listened to rumors and intrigues.
But the worst part is that if Duterte is being fed wrong information on matters involving drugs, it is also possible that the Philippine National Police (PNP) might also be getting erroneous information from its “Oplan Tokhang” targets.
“How reliable is the information fed to the PNP by barangay captains in Operation Tokhang? What does that tell us about barangay captains’ lists of drug pushers and addicts who are subjected to tokhang and vigilante assassinations based on said lists, if intel provided the President himself is prone to mistakes?” de Lima pointed out.
“Tokhang” means “knock and plead,” referring to the practice of policemen to visit the homes of drug suspects and ask them to surrender.
“No amount of apologies from the President will bring the dead back to life. He is not Jesus Christ who can bring Lazarus back to life, contrary to the belief of his fanatic supporters,” she added.