Lawmakers raise ‘shabu’ case vs Paolo Duterte
“Is he preempting an Ombudsman decision on his corruption case?”
This was the reaction of Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano to Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte’s announcement on Monday to resign four months after he was linked to the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth) through the Bureau of Customs.
In a statement, Alejano said on Tuesday the resignation of the elder son of President Duterte would “not erase the fact that the 604-kilogram shabu shipment issue has not been addressed yet and the brains behind have not been identified and arrested.”
The Office of the Ombudsman created a panel in October to look into the allegation that “the release [of the drugs from the port of Manila] was allegedly facilitated by public officials who were identified as members of the ‘Davao Group’ by customs [fixer] Mark Ruben Taguba II.”
Taguba told the Senate’s inquiry into the drug shipment in August that his direct contacts in the Davao Group, “Tita Nannie” and “Jack,” name-dropped the vice mayor and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio, husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
While he never met Paolo personally, Taguba claimed that he met Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr. in Davao City in January. Abellera supposedly asked P5 million to arrange the former’s protection by the younger Duterte.
Like Alejano, ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro said Paolo’s resignation should not save him from having to answer these allegations.
“Removing himself from public office will not make questions on his alleged links to the Davao Group and the smuggled P6.4-billion shabu shipment go away,” Tinio said.
Castro found Paolo’s resignation too late, saying “he should have resigned when he was first linked to the Davao Group and the smuggling of the P6.4-billion shabu.”
“But resignation or no, this should not guarantee that he is free from answering the allegations regarding participation in illegal activities and his accountability for them, should any be found,” she said.
Besides the drug issue, Paolo cited his public word war with daughter Isabelle, who drew social media backlash for her grandiose photo shoot right inside Malacañang, as a reason for his resignation.
Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, a member of the House supermajority, said Paolo’s resignation “shows there is still delicadeza in public service.”
“We hope the President will evaluate the resignation with only the good of the City of Davao in mind and not political pressure from the opposition,” Castelo said.
Mr. Duterte on Monday night said he had advised his son to do what was right after Paolo brought up his plan to resign. He said, however, that he did not suggest that Paolo quit his post.
“I told him, ‘It’s up to you. You are in the position to do what is right. Do what you think is [the] right [thing to do],’” the President said during his visit on Monday evening to Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, where the bodies of 37 fire victims were taken for identification.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President would talk first with Paolo before deciding what to do next. —REPORTS FROM VINCE F. NONATO AND PHILIP C. TUBEZA IN MANILA; AND FRINSTON LIM IN DAVAO CITY
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