The killing gets worse, so does the dictatorship



Since July 1, some 4,000 suspected drug dealers have been killed. Most of them, while allegedly resisting arrest. Fearing for their lives, some 700,000 drug users have surrendered to the police. For them prison is the safest place. This too was what Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte, apparently believed when he turned himself in last August after President Duterte linked him to the drug trade. He denied any involvement, said it was his son Kerwin who was involved; and the authorities caught up with the young man in Abu Dhabi last October. But last Saturday, the mayor was killed inside the sub-provincial jail in Baybay, Leyte, under circumstances that would have been completely ludicrous were the murder not so foul and tragic.

Espinosa was killed inside his cell at 4 o’clock in the morning, while reportedly resisting a search warrant being served by agents of the Philippine National Police Ciminal Investigation and Detection Group, Eastern Visayas. He was shot four times and died on the spot. It was perhaps the first time in law enforcement history that the police tried to serve a search warrant at an ungodly hour on an individual who was already under police custody, and whose personal effects had already passed thorough screening by his jailers. The incident has so scandalized the nation that the Senate, the NBI and the PNP are all eager to investigate and even DU30’s most rabid media defenders are screaming about the government’s irresponsibility and incompetence.

Will Espinosa be the last?
However it appears that Espinosa was not the first one to be killed inside his cell while allegedly resisting arrest. A former high official says he had read earlier of a similar incident, except that he could not recall the exact details of the incident. But he said he was “101 percent sure” that he had read such a report. Not having read the report myself, I can only take his word for it. But his fear is that it might create a new police practice. The Espinosa killing may not be the last. From breaking into prison cells to serve search warrants, the CDIG could start breaking into private homes, with search warrants or without, to go after their pre-designated targets. This is the rule of force asserting itself; it should not happen, but the rule of law could be completely silenced.

What the more perceptive drug war watchers see in the Espinosa killing is a hitherto unseen face of DU30’s war on drugs. It is an ugly one. Unlike all the other usually unshod victims killed by the police and the so-called vigilantes in the slums and on the streets, Espinosa was an elected and well-connected officeholder. His killers apparently believed he possessed valuable information about highly placed individuals involved in the illegal trade in Eastern Visayas and maybe beyond. Perhaps something like Harry Stonehill’s infamous blue book containing names of politicians involved in corruption.

They apparently feared that the disclosure of the explosive material could bring down yet undisclosed personalities. They had to get their hands on the material by means of the alleged search warrant. This was the reason he was liquidated, together with his inmate Raul Yap, apparently a collateral casualty. But he was rubbed out, according to these drug war watchers, not to put an end to the drug menace, but rather to protect the multi-billion peso drug business itself.

Eliminating the competition on drugs
What these analysts and observers are saying is that contrary to the official line that the summary killings are intended to go after the drug dealers to the last drug lord, they are simply meant to eliminate the “competition” to the “approved” illegal drugs traders. Proof of this, according to these analysts, is that no large narcotics laboratories have been raided and put out of business by the police. Neither have the suspected large narco syndicates been touched.

One suspected laboratory in Luzon was reported to have been raided, but only after those running it had removed all incriminating evidence before they themselves pulled out; two suspected laboratories in Calabarzon and Maguindanao have remained untouched. As for the narco syndicates reportedly operating in the country, only the most insignificant one, out of nine reported syndicates, appears to have attracted the attention of the authorities.

The analysts believe the Philippines remains a major transshipment point rather than a manufacturing center of illegal drugs, and that China remains the main source. They said they were hoping President Duterte would seek Beijing’s official help in staunching the flow of narcotics into the country during his recent China visit. However, although China promised substantial aid in establishing drug rehabilitation centers in the Philippines, there was no indication DU30 had taken up the drug supply issue in his conversations with President Xi Jingping.

China drugs flowing to the Philippines?
To the contrary, some anti-drug authorities have expressed concern that drug runners in China could transfer some of their manufacturing operations to the Philippines, even as the Chinese government provides help in setting up drug rehabilitation centers in the country. The first Chinese-supported drug rehabilitation facility is reported to be going up soon in Fort Magsaysay, Laur, Nueva Ecija, where some US forces are also stationed under the US-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The other rehabilitation centers could be located in the other camps in Visayas and Mindanao, where parts of the EDCA forces are also encamped.

In a world and an age in which not everything is what it seems, DU30 should exert every effort to assure us Filipinos about the real objective of his war on drugs——given the concern expressed by various governments, institutions and individuals around the world about the rash of summary killings. The public should be able to see, without the shadow of a doubt, that his only objective is to rid the country of this most dreadful menace, not just to eliminate one type of criminals whom the people in power have no business dealings with. There should never be the slightest suspicion that the President has any pretensions of imitating the kingpins of the Medellin drug cartel, who try to eliminate every other drug runner in order to control the trade themselves.

Can we stop the dictatorship?
DU30 would be well advised to show the nation, once and for all, that in Davao City, for starters, which he ran as mayor for 24 years, and which his children are running today, there is no evidence of any narcotics trade involving his immediate family, distant relatives or friends. Any rumors to the contrary must be squelched and exposed as malicious and false. But the more serious and sinister suspicion remains. Namely, that he has authorized the summary killings—-and police commanders are given quotas of dead bodies to count per week—-not only to force drug suspects to surrender to the authorities, but more importantly to silence public criticism and dissent on any issue, whether related to the war on drugs or not, and allow DU30 to talk like Louis XIV—-“I am the state.”

There is enough evidence to support this thesis and it is now an accomplished fact. The entire Congress has become a rubber stamp, the social media overpopulated by trolls, the regular mass media neutered and defanged, and the business and economic elite determined not to incur his wrath. Without declaring martial law like Marcos, or a revolutionary government like Cory Aquino, DU30 has mounted his own dictatorship on the corpses of those he had allowed to be killed without due process, in the name of fighting illegal drugs.

His communist Cabinet colleagues have given us a road map of where they intend to take us. And Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco is reported to have started looking at the pros and cons of declaring a revolutionary government. But after only four months into DU30’s six-year presidency, his original supporters are beginning to yawn and show fatigue. DU30 says he is determined to save the country from the colonial oppressions of the past. This appeals strongly to our nationalists. However, the question which more and more people are now beginning to ask is this: who will save us from the follies of this dictatorship?


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  1. As always a wonderful and well written article. The big highlight being that du30 didn’t even bring up supply of narcotics from China to the leadership at their meeting. If the “true” interest is to remove drugs from the society then this would have been the most important topic. The fact that it was not even mentioned is VERY alarming.

  2. Our cointry has long been submerged into deep rooted problems requiring a leader like DU30 who sees deeper solutions to conguer these social and political maladies. Let us be more patient and wait.

  3. If it were true that the 21 CIDG men who came to kill Espinosa had no “clearance” from above, could they have done it as coolly as they did? They could have been summarily executed themselves for a crime much more heinous than drug dealing — killing.

  4. As always a very well written and insightful article. In particular like how you highlighted that the base drug is manufactured in China and that du30 seemed to not bring this up at his meeting. I also noted that there does seem to be some missing elements in the crackdown such as large packaging or distribution centers.

  5. Yonkers, New York
    09 November 2016

    With his war on drugs as the justification or the specious excuse, Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte has let loose the “furies” on a hapless nation—an action which is fast gaining a momentum all its own, and one he may no longer be in a position to manage or control, even if in his more lucid moments he would want to.

    Admit it or not, like it or not, the Philippines is now under a ‘REIGN OF TERROR!”


  6. Ignacio Balbutin on

    in the beginning, I thought we are in for a real change but now it seems that nothing has changed. Crimes are rising and it is not safe anymore to walk around because you might be mistaken for a drug courier and be killed in an instant. The killing of mayor Espinosa really shed a bad light on the authorities. Serving warrant for someone who is already in jail is very funny indeed. All these perpetrators should be identified and be jailed themselves

  7. Excellent article Mr. Tatad. Supporters of Duterte should carefully consider the points enumerated in this article and objectively judge for themselves their stance in supporting (or not) the President’s actions. These killings are casting a horrible blot on the nation’s reputation.

    Please continue with your efforts to lay out the facts Mr. Tatad, for the benefit of the nation. Your critics will continue to pour their scorn and insults but without the facts to back up their poison. And may God’s protection be with you always.

  8. I don’t know why you bring “dictatorship” into the conversation. You know we don’t have one, even if you allude to it. A dictator would have already arrested and jailed all of those identified in the drug business.

  9. You call the democratically elected POP a dictator? Where did you study? It is people like you, western educated and slavishly beholden to America that is holding back economic development in the PH. I say for too long people like you have moulded public opinion and held back on the development of the PH so much so that it is now a basket case among ASEAN. Along with the economic problem, comes drugs, prostitution and gambling in casinos on a nation wide scale. It is about time that you and your servile western opinion goes. Go, before the people kicked you out.

  10. I now enjoy reading Me Francisco Tatad’s column especially on drug war, extra-judicial killings, and Pres. Duterte’s cabinet members identified as leftists.

  11. DU30 should exert every effort to assure us Filipinos about the real objective of his war on drugs——given the concern expressed by various governments, institutions and individuals around the world about the rash of summary killings. by Sec Kit Tatad

    It is very disheartening for such heinous crime to occur again in regional prison run by the government. It is so discouraging to find that for every one good thing for my Philippines go forward there are two steps back that evil and corrupt elements in government will pull the country down. I defer to disagree that the authorities are incompetent. They are unable to discriminate who in their rank is friend or foe. Darkness is now being lifted and light is being shed that the roaches are scampering. Those (expletive) Narcopoliticians, i.e governor generals congressman vice mayor people in government are eliminating cuddlings and cleaning up their tracks. Thank you, Sec. Tatad, for shedding a light on these evil. How can this crime happen again in places protected by law enforcement!!!!!. This is a disgrace and an embarrassment. I pray to the Lord please help my Philippines.get thru this. You are right, Mr. DU30 should exert the effort to assure the filipino that my Philippines will progress and be great again Thank you

    • It is the power of tremendous amount of money generated by drugs. That is the root of drug proliferation. It is running by the billions and not millions. Imagine military officers that has 10 condominions , multi million pesos homes and a multi million Nissan Pathfinder a married officer that has 2 to 3 girlfriends supplying business capital to all of them. Where in heavens name did they get all the monies” before ‘ I thought that it s coming from lagay but the money is so big that it cannot be coming from lagay. It ïs coming from narcotics, protector of drug lords.

  12. yes SIR, it’s depressing, Worst nightmares come true. I thought Phils was beyond tha for long timet, but it seems were all back to most evil basics. i just cant believe this is happening now in 2016

    • Seriously?! How old are you? Drug trafficing has been around and operating since the 70’s.

      You find it easier to believe that DU30 orchestrated the murder of an inmate in a provincial jail than to believe that drug lords are spending god knows how much money to keep them from being exposed?

    • Worst nightmares to all drug lords and its users. More likely to all corrupt politicians and criminals.

    • And some will be hailed as the benevolent force that raised a war torn nation into an industrial one. Or continually manipulate an entire country into thinking they are victims of a bygone dictatorship. Like the Aquinos.

  13. Drugs are all over the world. It might be impossible to stop the spread because of the amount of money involved. It might be mission impossible for Duterte. Many countries tried but failed. In this very poor uneducàted nation, this is obviously a hot bed for drugs. This nation is decaying from inside out.