Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Seares: What in Vic Loot repels Duterte?

* Related column: “Who tried to kill Vic Loot?” (May 2018)

TWO days apart, President Duterte stepped up his attack on alleged drug lords in his narco-list, specifically the alleged drug lords in Cebu, more particularly, retired police general Vicente Loot.

Loot, who retired in July 2015 and has been the mayor of Daanbantayan since 2016, insists (1) he never coddled drug lords, (2) he didn’t traffic in drugs, (3) he didn’t enrich himself from drugs. To that, Duterte said, “Don’t give me b.s., general.”

OK, denials of wrongdoing come out flat and hollow when the president accusing Loot won by a plurality of 6.13 million votes and the accused Loot won by seven votes. The problem though is that Loot has not been charged yet, which might be worse than not being indicted in these times, as he faces no complaint but can be felled anytime by an unidentified killer.

Attempts to kill

Loot wouldn’t laugh even if he could. He had already been shot at. Killers missed in that assault at his town’s port but three others were wounded. In Cebu City, the brother of another drug dealing suspect survived a similar attempt.

Keeping in mind the president’s disappointment that Loot was still alive, the killers might shoot straight the next time.

But why is Loot considered “a general problem” by the president? Why has he gotten Duterte’s goat? Such that the Cebuano’s name gets into almost every spiel from the president when he comes to the topic of drugs, which is often.

Other police generals were also listed but why does he pick on Loot and not on Marcelo Garbo, Bernardo Diaz, Joel Pagdilao or Edgardo Tinio, the other four police officials whom Duterte publicly shamed last July 2016?

Theories on why

What’s in Loot that bugs the president? A few theories:

* It could be because he considers the Cebuano a fair-haired boy of then president Noynoy Aquino. When Noynoy commented last May 8 that he saw nothing happening in the drug war, Duterte bristled and mentioned Loot’s name in accusing Noynoy of protecting drug lords.

* Is it due to the difficulty of pinning down Loot lawfully and the failure to eliminate him extra-judicially, which attests to incompetence on both levels?

* Does Loot flaunt his wealth, which the president deplored about people who “became rich from illegal drugs” and openly display their affluence? In a way, he does with his SALN-declared 10 vehicles, five of which cost more than P2 million apiece, his yacht and two jet-skis, jewelries and at least 12 houses and lots. “It’s my wife who’s rich,” Loot has repeatedly said, to which Duterte said, b***s**t.

* Or it could be his alleged betrayal as a law enforcer and as an elected public official, which must repel the president on two counts.

Justice system

Loot wouldn’t have as much resources as the state that’s aggrieved by his alleged involvement in illegal drugs. And, given the numbers in his SALN, he and his family would have much to lose, which makes him less formidable (having nothing to lose would’ve been scary).

He’s left hanging and twisting in the wind, worse than being dragged to court. If he survives this one, he can speak volumes about beating the presidential power and the justice system.


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