PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte defended his drug war on Tuesday night and placed the blame on the “Bamboo Triad” of Taiwan, which he claimed was flooding the Philippines with illegal drugs.
The President, in remarks during the 56th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Constitution Association, said his administration was not after killing people.
“Now, there are some countries which are insulting us, [asking us]to open our records to them. Who are you to do that? If you don’t believe our records, then go out and find something else to do. We do not fabricate,” Duterte said.
“We are in trouble, this is the first time I would reveal it. The Philippines is a client state of the Bamboo Triad.
They have taken over the drug operations. The Philippines serves as a transshipment [point]of shabu (methamphetamine) to [the United States of]America. It behooves upon America to work closely with the Republic of the Philippines on this serious matter. We are flooded with drugs and the locals here haven’t taken in [drugs]…but they participate in the selling,” Duterte added.
The Bamboo Union, or Zhu Lien Bang, is said to be the largest and most powerful of the triad gangs in the world, with more than 10,000 members worldwide, according to the US Customs Service.
According to Taiwan’s National Police Agency, the Bamboo Union’s members are involved in prostitution, gambling and extortion, gun-running, drug smuggling and human trafficking worldwide.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Taiwan’s de facto embassy, denied on Monday that Taiwan was the Philippines’ source of illegal drugs.
“Taiwan fully supports the Philippines’ combat against transnational drug syndicates. Taiwan and the Philippines have been working together to fight against illegal drugs for years,” Taiwan’s statement said.
The Philippines and Taiwan have established cooperation mechanisms and systems to fight drug traffickers, including a mutual legal assistance agreement.
Opposition, rights groups challenged
The President’s comments came four days after the country rejected 154 of the 257 recommendations made by United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) seeking to improve the country’s human rights record.
The UNHRC’s recommendations centered on investigating the extrajudicial killings linked to the drug war, as well as scrapping moves to restore the death penalty and lower the age of criminal liability to nine years old from 15.
“You say that we are killing our own countrymen? For what reason? Find me one, even one officer or a patrolman, find me one that would say that I ordered them to execute criminals and you will have my resignation tomorrow,” Duterte said.
The President dared critics of his drug war to prove that he had ordered government troops to kill criminals, and execute an affidavit stating that his children were involved in smuggling.
“I’m challenging the opposition. If it is true in an affidavit form, or if you say that my children are into this kind of smuggling… I told you, I will not hesitate in enforcing the law,” Duterte, a lawyer, said.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th has accused the President’s son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, of being behind the smuggling of the P6.4 billion worth of illegal drugs.
The President and the younger Duterte have denied the accusations, with the President even saying that he would issue an order to kill his son in the event Paolo is found guilty of being involved in the drug trade.
On Wednesday, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella echoed the President’s statements, following a petition filed by a group of lawyers calling on the Supreme Court to order government agencies to investigate and resolve the unabated drug-related killings.
The respondents in the petition filed by lawyers led by Evalyn Ursua include Philippine National Police chief Ronald de la Rosa, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd and Chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon of the Commission on Human Rights.
“Authorities follow protocols and procedures during the conduct of police operations. Drug-related killings form part of cases under investigation by the police, alongside murder and homicide cases,” Abella said in a statement.
with RJ CARBONELL