CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña lashed back at Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino after the latter criticized him for allegedly blaming President Rodrigo Duterte for the drug problem in the country.
In a post uploaded on the official Facebook page of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas last April 3, Dino alleged that the mayor is “resorting to doublespeak, squid tactic and bullying” to defend himself.
It was in response to Osmeña’s earlier statement that the drug problem will continue unless the Duterte administration will make a move against China. Osmeña believes that suspected drug lords source their supply from that country.
The mayor was reportedly overheard making the statement on the sidelines of a luncheon meeting with officials of the Cebu City Police Office last Saturday.
However, this did not sit well with Dino, who started his post with, “Don’t you dare blame President Duterte of the drug problem” in block capitals.
“The proliferation of illegal drugs is not due to President (Rodrigo) Duterte’s adherence to an independent foreign policy, which resulted in the warming of relations with China and other foreign nations. The acts and pronouncements of President Duterte show he is not afraid of China contrary to what (Mayor Tomas) Osmeña would like us to believe, but one of an astute sovereign leader,” he said.
Calling illegal drugs a “worldwide scourge,” the presidential assistant said it takes a leader like Duterte to wage an all-out war against it.
He added that he has been mum about the mayor’s attacks against his critics and two commercial giants, but he is now speaking up.
Dino was referring to reports of Osmeña allegedly protecting suspected drug lords, which recently made headlines.
Last March 26, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II announced that an affidavit executed in November 2016 by Reynaldo “Jumbo” Diaz, cousin and alleged bagman of slain drug lord Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, listed Osmeña among Cebu officials who allegedly received payola from their drug syndicate.
The mayor has since denied the allegations, and went on to challenge Aguirre to file charges against him.
He added that he will be filing a disbarment case against Aguirre for allegedly meddling in the case the City Government filed against two commercial giants. Osmeña said Aguirre seems to be acting as their lawyer.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald dela Rosa and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino have both said on separate occasions that their organizations have not yet received any information about Osmeña’s links to illegal drug operations as alleged by Aguirre.
But for Dino, this does not discount the affidavit with DOJ alleging that Osmeña received P7 million from Jaguar.
Osmeña, on the other hand, emphasized that he did not make the statement out of malice. His response to Dino was posted in his official Facebook page on April 4.
“As head of an LGU (local government unit), am I not allowed to air out my grievances on drugs to a President who won on an anti-drug platform? I am capable of, and duty-bound to give constructive criticism, worded as it is. Unlike you, I am not afraid to say what I think because unlike you, I owe my position to no one other than the Cebuanos. Unlike you, I do not have to hide behind social media consultants and fake news pages because I am strong enough to speak for myself. But most importantly, unlike you, I actually care about what happens to this city and the country it’s in,” he said.
The mayor called out Dino for allegedly being a turncoat and for reportedly trying to sabotage the Bus Rapid Transit project, among others.
He added that using Aguirre’s word as proof against him makes Dino “laughable and pathetic.”