MANILA, Philippines - Drug lords are bankrolling efforts to destabilize the Duterte administration – aided unwittingly by human rights organizations and other groups with legitimate concerns over the conduct of the war on drugs, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano claimed yesterday.
The senator said that with the illegal drug trade now a P20-billion to P500-billion industry, it’s not surprising for drug lords to fight back with arms and money to stop the administration’s strong anti-drug campaign.
“There’s an ongoing destabilization. While there are really human rights advocates raising legitimate concerns, there are drug lords riding on this, there is also politicking involved,” Cayetano told a press conference. “Let’s not be naïve, the drug lords are not standing by.”
He said he does not have the details of how drug lords are financing the alleged destabilization efforts or how much they have put out, but he claimed security officials have received information on this.
The senator indicated that some of the information involved financial transactions, explaining President Duterte’s warning the Anti-Money Laundering Council to cooperate in the war on drugs.
Cayetano said that even if there is no classified information in his possession at the moment, drug funding could not be disputed because “that’s how they (drug lords) operate around the world – and that’s an internationally accepted fact.”
He cited a case in Taguig City, where his family resides, where the chief of police was subjected to excessive negative reports in the media that were later traced to an influential police officer linked to drug syndicates.
“We felt that (drug lords’ money working to defeat Duterte) during the presidential campaign. That’s why we have narco-politics – drug lords involving themselves in political campaigns,” he said.
Most of the top drug lords, he maintained, are not known criminals and are most likely citizens of good standing or philanthropist so much so that political candidates or groups with legitimate criticisms may not know they are receiving drug money from them.
Cayetano also hit anti-Duterte politicians, particularly those from the Liberal Party and former president Benigno Aquino III, for insisting they are not engaged in destabilization despite their calling the President names and seeking his ouster.
“We have to separate issues on human rights violations and police operation from politics. Wiping out criminality and political criticism are separate but some people put them together,” Cayetano said.
He said this was why some legitimate protest rallies, including those led by the church, had attracted people demanding Duterte’s resignation.
He cited the case of detained Sen. Leila de Lima who, he said, was trying to make it appear the administration had her illegally arrested.
By making such claim, De Lima was implying the courts were involved in her political persecution and that democratic institutions were no longer functioning.
He declined to say if he thought De Lima and another harsh Duterte critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, were receiving drug money to move for the overthrow of the administration. As for Trillanes, Cayetano said the former military man was into conspiracies as shown by his staging the Oakwood mutiny in 2003.
For Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, there is something “sinister” in the release of reports by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) that indicated Duterte’s liability for crimes against humanity, particularly for the deaths of over 7,000 persons in the administration’s war on drugs.
Sotto said that the over 7,000 figure being quoted constantly as the number of deaths related to the war on drugs was inaccurate and misleading.
“Why is Human Rights Watch and other people always harping on the so-called 7,000 deaths? Only 2,555 deaths are attributed to police operations. Police operations to date are 43,593 while those arrested who are in jail or in courts are 53,293 in these ops. Why don’t they mention that?” Sotto said.
“I’m starting to suspect something fishy going on with these so called ‘rightists,”’ he added.
Sotto said he suspects these groups have some ulterior motive in coming out with their reports, including bringing a case against President Duterte before the International Criminal Court.
De Lima, meanwhile, scoffed at the continued denial by Duterte and his allies that the killings were state-sponsored.
In a handwritten note addressed to the “President and PNP spokespersons and other presidential defenders,” De Lima told them to “stop insulting our intelligence, stop fooling our people and the rest of the world.”
Philippine National Police spokesman Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos declined to comment on De Lima’s latest tirades. But on Thursday, Carlos hit human rights groups for making generalizations against the PNP.
“For them to say that it’s the entire organization, I think that is not right,” said Carlos in a news briefing. Marvin Sy, Emmanuel Tupashttp://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/03/04/1677770/drug-lords-financing-destabilization-efforts