Espinoza: Is Mayor Loot among the coddlers?

TRUE to his promise and without mincing his words, President Rodrigo Duterte named in his speech on the occasion of the 69th Anniversary of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in Clark Freeport on Tuesday five police generals suspected to be protecting illegal drug traders.

They are retired Gen. Marcelo Garbo Jr.; retired Gen. Vic Loot (now mayor of Daanbantayan, Cebu); Gen. Bernardo Diaz, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 6; Gen. Joel Pagdilao, chief National Capital Region Police Office; Gen. Edgardo Tinio, chief of the Quezon City Police District.

"I am compelled by my sense of duty,” said President Duterte in his mixed English-Tagalog speech. He ordered the generals relieved and to report to the PNP Director General.

The President also asked the National Police Commission to investigate the active police generals he named. He warned them to seek the truth and not give him a zarzuela.

But Tinio, Diaz, Pagdilao, Garbo and Mayor Loot, in separate media interviews, strongly denied the accusation against them. They are willing to meet the President.

Mayor Loot, in an interview by Rico Osmeña of radio dyCM (1152AM), said the President was misinformed. While he admitted that he was once investigated for the same accusation, but he was cleared by the PNP’s anti-illegal drugs task force years back.

Loot said he is a victim of political black propaganda. He is allegedly accused of being a coddler of drug lords every election because his wife is a politician, whom he succeeded as mayor.

Sen. Ping Lacson backs President Duterte. Lacson said his former subordinates in the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force, who at the time were seriously involved in the anti-illegal drug operations, told him about the two generals.

A former PNP chief, Lacson said “the commander-in-chief, more than anybody in this country, is in the best position to have access to all these vital and sensitive information and I have no reason to doubt or question its validity.”

During his speech, President Duterte said what is sad is that the taxpayers paid for the education of these police officers in the Philippine Military Academy or the Philippine National Police Academy, but they turned to crime, which "by any language is treason."

On the other hand, parents could now sleep soundly after thousands of drug pushers yielded and signed a pledge to stop their illegal drug trade or stop using illegal drugs.

This is the development that President Duterte is looking forward to. To recall, killing drug lords and cleansing our country of criminals was Duterte’s campaign line that catapulted him to power.

It was surprising though for President Duterte to express disbelief over the rise in the body count of suspected illegal drug pushers that policemen put down in their aggressive campaign against the illegal drugs menace.

The President’s expression of disbelief could put a cloud of doubt on the police operations against suspected illegal drug traders who were killed in the encounters. This could also provide support to the suspicions that those drug lords were killed to silence them.

Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria and Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, two of the known “drug lords” in Cebu and the neighboring provinces, were killed in separate police operations before Duterte was sworn in as the country's 16th President.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, even before he could assume office, hailed the successful police operations against Yawa and Jaguar. He gave the policemen cash reward for the death of the two.

Was Malacañang trying to portray to all that President Duterte has already morphed from being vulgar into a true and real president? This is a good sign.

But during his speech at the anniversary of the PAF, the President showed his utter consternation when he named the five police generals who are allegedly protectors of illegal drugs traders. He could not hold his mouth.

Senator Lacson, on the other hand, objected to President Duterte’s plan to let the New People’s Army (NPA) act as policemen in their controlled area. Lacson said it would be like having two governments.
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