MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson insisted that the Philippine leader’s oft-repeated, albeit violent, rhetoric was merely a reflection of his sincerity to wipe out the drug menace.
That’s just the way he is.
The Presidential Palace on Tuesday soft-pedaled President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to narcomayors that they would suffer the fate of Rolando Espinosa, the mayor of Albuera, Leyte, who was shot dead by policemen in his detention cell on Nov. 5.
Ernesto Abella, Duterte’s spokesperson, insisted that the President’s oft-repeated, albeit violent, rhetoric was merely a reflection of his sincerity to wipe out the drug menace.
“It is … a matter of the leadership style and messaging style of the President … . This is his messaging style to underline his intentions. He is serious about it,” Abella told reporters.
“However, it’s just meant to underline his seriousness in making sure that nobody is corrupt and involved in criminality,” he added.
Abella laughed when asked if Duterte would kill municipal and city mayors on the so-called narcolist that the President almost always shows during his public speeches.
The list, a 10-centimeter-thick pile of documents, contains the names of some 5,000 government officials, most of them policemen, allegedly involved in the sale, production and distribution of illegal drugs.
Espinosa, the father of confessed drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa, was shot dead by policemen who swooped down on his cell at the Leyte subprovincial jail on Nov. 5.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the mayor’s slaying was an obvious case of extrajudicial killing.
Espinosa was slain barely a week after Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, was killed in an alleged shootout with policemen in Makilala, North Cotabato.
Interestingly, both mayors were listed on Duterte’s narcolist.
The foul-mouthed leader, who came up short with his promise to stamp out the drug problem last December, has also threatened to kill drug addicts and those critical of his brutal drug war, among them human rights advocates.
Speaking before newly appointed public officials on Monday, the President said he was planning to confront local chief executives and ask them to look for their names on his narcolist.
If they appeared on the list, Duterte said the mayors would have “a problem,” warning that their only choice was to resign or face death.
More than 6,000 people have been killed in Duterte’s war against drugs—about 2,200 in police operations.
Sen. Leila de Lima said on Tuesday that she would file a petition for the writ of amparo (protection) to urge the Supreme Court to tell Duterte and other officials “to stop threatening me, to tell them to stop issuing statements that can incite people, whether their own allies, their own supporters, or other elements to do harm to me.”
She said that the President’s statements on killings were “disturbing” and made her “a fair game for sinister things.”