Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has made a name for himself carrying out a most brutal war on drugs, publicly urging police and civilians to summarily execute drug users and dealers. This campaign of mass murder has so far claimed thousands of lives.
President Trump even called Duterte in April to praise him personally, saying, “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem.”
What would the bloodthirsty president say if his own son, Paolo Duterte, was involved in drug dealing?
That question might be answered pending the result of a Filipino Senate investigation. While his father is hell-bent on a drug war crusade, Paolo is accused of being involved in a $125 million shipment of crystal meth from China into the port in Manila.
“Senator Antonio Trillanes, a staunch critic of the president, displayed to the Senate panel photographs of Paolo Duterte beside a businessman who was behind the shipment in which the alleged drugs were found.
The president’s son-in-law, Manases Carpio, who has also been accused of links to the May drug shipment from China, told the hearing he had no involvement…
Mr Trillanes said he had intelligence information from an undisclosed foreign country that Paolo Duterte was a member of a criminal syndicate, citing as proof a “dragon-like” tattoo with secret digits on his back.”
Paolo, who is the vice mayor of the city of Davao, denied the accusations and refused to answer questions, adding that his bank accounts were “irrelevant” to the inquiry. Trillanes said both Paolo Duterte and Manases Carpio have a hundred million pesos in bank accounts that are not reported as required.
"We can compel the opening of these accounts by having cases filed against Paolo for ill-gotten wealth because he is a public official and this is not reported in his SALN," said Trillanes.
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Paolo also refused to show the tattoo, which Trillanes says has secret digits that can be decoded by the U.S. DEA. Trillanes suggested that only someone with influence like Paolo would be able to smuggle drugs into Davao, where Paolo serves as vice mayor.
Whether Paolo is innocent or not, he gets the luxury of a formal inquiry where he can invoke a constitutional right to remain silent. Ordinary Filipinos don’t have these privileges under Rodrigo Duterte, and instead, are murdered on the spot for the suspicion of dealing drugs.
While low-level street dealers and users die by the scores in Duterte’s brutal drug war, the bigger players—such as those involved in shipping $125 million quantities of crystal meth into the country—can buy themselves protection.
The black market always fosters relationships between top drug dealers, law enforcement, and dirty politicians, as we see in the U.S., especially with Border Patrol and the Mexican drug trade. In the Philippines, it would be most profitable for someone in Paolo’s position to fill the voids being left in the drug trade as State forces wreak terror and havoc.
Power corrupts, and too often it turns out that those leaders carrying out crusades against a "moral blight" are neck deep in the target of their false outrage. Drug crusaders turn out to be enabling and profiting from the drug trade, such as the cargo ship owned by Mitch McConnell’s family that was found carrying 90 pounds of cocaine.
Rodrigo Duterte represents the dystopian culmination of the War on Drugs. What’s happening in the Philippines can happen anywhere obsessive leaders, with the backing of the majority population, use absolute power to wage war against the behavior of ingesting substances deemed illegal by the State.
And, if Paolo Duterte is found to be involved in massive drug dealing, the Duterte government will be a poignant reminder that the State’s drug war crusade serves to wipe out the competition so corrupt politicians can reap the profits of drug dealing.