PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is set to turn over to the National Security Council and Congress a list containing the names of as much as 10,000 government officials involved in the illegal drug trade.
Duterte told a reunion of schoolmates from San Beda College of Law on Saturday that the “thick” list had been “validated,” but said he needed help in dealing with narco-officials.
“To my horror, it was so thick. Even if assuming that I kill them as I am accused of, I will run out of time and bullets because in this report, everyone is there. There were about so many thousands [of]policemen, barangay (village) captains and mayors. How do I investigate them one at a time?” he said.
“Even if I file charges, I would have to get some evidence. I will never accomplish that duty … So maybe before the end of the month I will submit that report to the National Security Council, as well as the Senate president and the speaker of the House, then let us formulate how to prevent disaster for the next generation,” Duterte added.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said on Sunday the “narco-list” was more than a foot long.
“There are about 5,000 to 10,000 government officials there [in the list]. There are barangay captains, mayors, governors, members of the judiciary and prosecutors. I do not know the names, but I saw the folders. It is more than one foot,” Panelo said in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel.
Panelo said the list was based on intelligence reports from various government agencies.
Loot kept on showing up
The President on Saturday zeroed in on one of five police generals he had accused in July as protectors of drug syndicates – retired chief superintendent Vicente Loot who is now mayor of Daanbantayan, Cebu.
“The generals I named, they keep on cropping up, like Loot, from any region – Region I intelligence report, his name comes out … Why this guy? It turned out that wherever he was assigned, he was playing all along with the drug industry,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Eastern Visayas drug kingpin Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. told a Senate inquiry last week he gave regular protection money to Loot.
Loot denied all the allegations and has vowed to sue Espinosa and others who have “used my name in collecting drug money.”
The five “narco-generals” unmasked by Duterte in July were retired generals Loot and Marcelo Garbo Jr., former National Capital Region Police Office director Joel Pagdilao, former Western Visayas regional director Chief Supt. Bernardo Diaz, and former Quezon City Police District director Chief Supt. Edgardo Tinio.
Panelo claimed that given the extent of corruption involving drugs, it was reasonable for Duterte to seek the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus that allows arrests without warrants.
Under the Constitution, the President can only ask Congress to suspend the writ of habeas corpus during two instances: invasion or rebellion.
“This [figure]just shows the depth of the drug menace…it is so huge that public safety is now in danger. You cannot limit the President on two grounds of invasion and rebellion. Any circumstances akin to those grounds can be used by the President, which I think would also be approved of by the Supreme Court,” Panelo said.
“We also have to look at the intent of the Constitution,” he added.