PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte revealed Thursday night that a high-level Chinese drug triad operating inside the National Bilibid Prison is behind the multi-billion drug operation being protected by the five police generals he publicly shamed Tuesday.
Speaking at a delayed TV broadcast aired through state-owned PTV4 on Thursday, Duterte also revealed that one of the accused narco-generals, retired PNP general Marcelo Garbo is the top police coddler, protecting two of the drug triad operators in Luzon, Metro Manila and the Visayas.
The President also advised mayors and politicians involved in the drug trade to “commit suicide” before getting shamed on public, adding that drug ring leaders should get prepared to be shot in the airports or when they escape prison.
“I have decided to reveal the state of the drug situation to show to you how corrosive and huge the dimensions of our problems are,” Duterte said.
First on the drug hierarchy of the so-called “Level 5 drug triad is Wu Tuan alias Peter Co, a Chinese national who leads the triad operations in Luzon and National
Capital Region. Co is currently detained at NBP and leader of the Bilibid 19, the notorious drug ring inside the national penitentiary, which has been slipping illegal drugs and selling them to prisoners.
Another Chinese drug lord identified by the President was Peter Lim, also known as Jaguar, who supervises the triad in the Visayas. Lim is currently at large.
Garbo was identified by the President as the associate and protector of top Chinese drug lords Co and Lim, though his connections with the two are currently being established by the Philippine National Police.
The fourth member of the drug ring is Herbert Colangco alias Ampang, also an inmate at the national penitentiary. Apart from drug operations, Colangco is also allegedly involved in kidnap-for-ransom and bank robbery.
Solicitor General Jose Calida, in an interview with reporters, said that Co and Colangco control drug operations across the country even while inside the NBP.
Under these five drug operators are other persons of interest composed of the following: Chinese nationals, PNP officials, BJMP officials, and local government officials, many of them mayors.
Calida said that the four other officials implicated by Duterte (Pagdilao, Tinio, Loot, and Diaz) were part of the bigger chart presented by Duterte during the Cabinet meeting of the security cluster convened Thursday.
“There are five levels depending on capability of drug pushers to sell. These are categorized in grams or kilograms so the level five is the top tier of the drug hierarchy,” Calida told reporters in a press briefing.
Duterte added that the Ozamis Mayor Aldong Parohinog is the father-in-law of one of the names under the line of hierarchy of the top drug triads, Colangco, who operates the drug ring in Mindanao.
Earlier, presidential chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said the President did not violate the law in shaming the five generals allegedly involved in drug trade.
Saying that the five generals were given a chance by the President to resign and leave the active service when they had ample time to do so, Panelo said they were given an opportunity to explain their side and stop whatever illegal activities they were doing.
“No law nor due process has been violated,” Panelo said in a chance interview with reporters at the Malacañan Palace.
“When you say due process, you give the respondent the chance to explain his side whatever accusation anyone has made. If you recall, the President has been asking the people he has named to come out in the open and explain their side.”
Panelo made this statements as the Interior Department said that the public should expect a wider crackdown on all politicians and government officials involved in the proliferation and protection of the illegal drug trade.
The five police generals all denied the accusations against them and said they would cooperate with any investigation but also decried the lack of due process, and suggested that Duterte had been fed the wrong information.
Panelo, however, said there was a “slim probability” that Duterte has been fed the wrong information.
“If you are the President, you have access. [The information] has been scrutinized and validated,” he said. He added that the President will not name any person involved in illegal drug trade if he does not have a valid basis.
Panelo also denied the Palace was conducting a trial by publicity, saying that due process was being observed.
Duterte supporter and incoming Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III agreed that the President did not violate due process.
He added that Duterte was doing his sworn duty to execute the laws as head of the executive branch.
But Senator Leila de Lima, former Justice secretary, said there was a violation of due process in Duterte’s “name-and-shame” tactic.
“There’s still presumption of innocence and therefore, they are entitled to be heard. They should not be subjected to trial by publicity,” De Lima said.
De Lima also asked what would happen if one or two of the police generals happened to be innocent when their families were already affected by the public accusations.
De Lima said the cases should be investigated, not only by the National Police Commission, but also an independent body.
On the other hand, De Lima said, the President did demonstrate his seriousness about stamping out criminality and corruption. She cautioned, however, that those carrying out Duterte’s orders must be conscious of the need for due process.
De Lima also vowed to file a resolution calling for a congressional inquiry into the series of killings of drug suspects, noting the telltale signs of summary executions in a number of these cases.
In a separate interview, Senator Richard Gordon said the accused are going to get their day in court.
Gordon said no rights were violated.
“What’s violated? They were not judged,” he said.