Espinoza: Narco-politics is here

AT noon today, Rodrigo Roa Duterte will take his oath as the 16th president of our Republic. Holding the activity in Malacañang breaks the tradition of installing a president with pompousness and of usually doing it at the Quirino grandstand.

After the oath-taking ceremony, outgoing president Noynoy Aquino will welcome Duterte to the president’s office as his last guest. Then President Duterte will hold his inaugural Cabinet meeting in Malacañang.

Communications Secretary Martin Andar said President Duterte will deliver his short but meaty inaugural address after the oath taking. Perhaps, he will repeat his stern warning to government officials to “stop corruption now.”

Although the first day in office for the new president starts today, I suppose we will start counting tomorrow as day one vis-à-vis his campaign pledge to eradicate drug lords and criminals in three to six months.

I would like to believe that, aside from the shift to the federal system, the very reason Duterte won the presidential race was because of his promise to run after drug lords and corrupt government officials.

President Duterte did not come from the masa because he grew up with a father who was governor of one Davao before. But he associated himself with the masa so that his victory could be understood as the masa’s rebuff of the ruling elite.

Duterte is the first president who comes from Mindanao and who is mayor of Davao City. His success in running the city as a crime and corruption-free local government unit greatly contributed to his victory. He won by more than 16 million votes.

So when President Duterte earlier said he is not afraid of impeachment I was taken aback. He said it while delivering his farewell speech to Davao City Hall employees.

Even House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. could not believe it. Belmonte said the possibility of impeaching President Duterte is zero. Such talks, Belmonte said, was divisive and harmful to the nation.

The House of Representatives is now controlled by the PDP-Laban, the President’s party, after majority of the congressmen jumped ship. Belmonte said there was no reason for President Duterte to fear impeachment or “to even include it in his thinking.”

I don’t think that a move to impeachment him was just a figment of President Duterte’s fertile imagination. Someone in Congress must be a rumor monger.

But Senator-elect Ping Lacson said that to protect President Duterte from the rumored impeachment move, he should deliver on his anti-crime and anti-corruption promise.

It’s too early to cast doubt on the capability of President Duterte to fulfill his promise to eradicate corruption and the drug lords. He deserves our support now so he would deliver his promise of peace and order for our country.

***

The revelation by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña that he refused the money that the late Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz offered during the elections has opened our eyes to the reality of narco-politics.

Mayor Osmeña made the statement to members of Cebu media while waiting for Vice President Leni Robredo to arrive. Mayor Osmeña and the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) councilors took their oath of office before VP Robredo on Tuesday at the Cebu City Sports Center.

Although Mayor Osmeña’s statement is not legally admissible because “Jaguar” is dead, his claim supported the police’s theory of how big Jaguar’s illegal drugs operations in Cebu and the neighboring provinces are.

Mayor Osmeña’s statement was also a swipe at former mayor Mike Rama, who was accused by his critics to be hooked on drugs. But Rama has denied he uses illegal drugs. This issue contributed to Rama’s loss to Osmeña, who won by 30,000 votes.

A question that now begs an answer from other politicians, who were either elected or have lost in the May 9 polls, is did they receivea similar offer from “Jaguar” or other illegal drug traders through their protectors?

I could say now without fear of contradiction that the election of President Duterte comes at the right time because, judging from the revelation of Mayor Osmeña, narco-politics is here. Or, has it long been here?

Jaguar was interred at the Calamba cemetery on Monday like a celebrity. His relatives, friends and neighbors who benefited from the profits of his illegal drug trade paid tribute to him. These people were not only unhappy of Jaguar’s death but they were also angry at the police.

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