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No double standard in drug war–Palace

Other suspects urged to prove they’re clean
By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 12:01 AM July 18, 2016
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar   INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

WHY did the “Punisher” let alleged drug Triad boss Peter Lim live another day?

The Palace could not give the exact reason, but Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Sunday sought to assure the public that there was no double standard in the government’s war against illegal drugs.

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Lim, a wealthy businessman from Cebu, met with President Duterte in Davao City on Friday night as bodies of poor drug suspects continued to turn up in various parts of the country.

An Inquirer count since July 1 showed at least 179 people have been killed in police operations against illegal drugs.  Another 64 drug-related deaths have been blamed on vigilantes. Most of the victims—described as drug lords and pushers—were killed in slum areas  and looked impoverished.

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Mr. Duterte, who earned the monicker “Punisher” for advocating the summary killings of suspected criminals when he was mayor of Davao City, said in a televised address on July 7 that he would execute Lim the minute the businessman set foot in the country on his return from a reported overseas trip.

The President, however, let the Cebu trader leave the regional office of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority in one piece after their meeting.

“The alleged drug lord Peter Lim has come out in the open. He [wants to clear] his name and he has expressed his intention to the President that he will do just that,” Andanar told state-run dzRV radio.

 Burden now on Lim

“The burden now is [on] Peter Lim and we do encourage the rest of the suspects to do the same,” he added.

During their conversation, the President repeated his warning to Lim that he would have him executed if investigation showed that he was the same Peter Lim, alias Jaguar, who was running the drug Triad in the Visayas region.

Unlike Lim, many of those killed in police operations and vigilante-style attacks were not given the chance to talk with the most powerful man in the country to defend themselves.

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“I threatened to have you killed. You know, I’ll really have you killed if I get [evidence]. I’ll really finish you off,” the President bluntly told him, according to a video of the meeting the government released on YouTube.

Asked why the President did not kill Lim as he had warned, Andanar said: “Well, Peter Lim has already expressed his intentions to clear his name. Let’s leave it at that.”

“Let’s just wait until the final investigation comes out. Let’s just wait for Mr. Peter Lim’s evidence and what he can show to clear [his name of] this allegation,” Andanar insisted.

No discrimination

He then challenged those claiming that the Duterte administration has been discriminating against poor drug addicts and street-level drug peddlers.

“Those questions have to be supported by facts, by empirical evidence,” he said. “As far as we know, the operation of the Philippine National Police has always been in pursuit of those who are peddling and pushing drugs.”

Andanar said Mr. Duterte was the first and only Chief Executive who boldly identified in public those involved in the illegal drug trade.

The President earlier named five active and retired senior police officials as protectors of illegal drug syndicates.

Said Andanar: “The President has even named the Level 5 drug lords … [who] are the highest … in the hierarchy of those who are selling illegal drugs.”

“As far as I can remember in the history, I have not seen a President who has been so brave in announcing to the public the people who are allegedly behind this menace of drugs,” he continued.

Drug matrix

Andanar said he himself had seen the names of people on  the “drug matrix” that Mr. Duterte showed  to the public during his July 7 address.

He said the contents of the list could make people’s stomachs turn. “What I can only tell you is that if you see the matrix, you’ll probably say that it is really unbelievable and it will really make you throw up.”

Andanar said the matrix showed that only a handful of people were behind the agony of some 1.8 Filipinos who are hooked on illegal substances.

“It’s really distressing to see that only a few people are selling illegal drugs, but the lives of millions of our countrymen and our youth are being destroyed,” he said.

As to the local officials who were also into the distribution of illegal drugs, he said Mr. Duterte would identify them “in time along with other persons of interest.”

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