PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa admitted that government does not have enough evidence to file charges and prosecute the judges, policemen and former and incumbent local officials that it accused as being involved in the illegal drugs trade, either as drug lords or protector. Dela Rosa said the police will still conduct further investigation on those in in the “narco list.”
One of those named by President Rodrigo Duterte as “drug protector” was former mayor Mike Rama. Rama denied the allegation. What if the authorities cannot find evidence against the personalities they accused of being involved in the illegal drugs trade? Will nothing happen to them? Will they remain scot-free?
I am not a lawyer but I think it would be very difficult for the authorities to prosecute those classified only as “drug protectors.” The accusation is hard to prove unless they can secure bank documents or testimonies from credible witnesses. Mere association with a drug lord is not enough to link someone to the illegal activity. They cannot even pin down drug lords who are directly involved in drug dealing.
And even if they are indeed drug protectors, it is hard to criminally prosecute them for lack of documents showing that they received protection money from drug lords. Have the authorities filed a case against a businessman they tagged as a drug lord? They could not even ascertain the identity of this person.
Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., admitted that his son, Kerwin, is a drug lord. In fact, authorities confiscated millions of pesos worth of illegal drugs from the Espinosa's compound during a raid. Several firearms of various calibers were recovered from their residence after their goons engaged lawmen in a shootout last week, leaving six persons dead.
Do you think the older Espinosa did not know the illegal activities of his son? He knew it but he just tolerated it because he obviously benefited from these. So can we call Espinosa a drug protector? But where is he now? The police who took custody of him when he surrendered were forced to free him because no charges were filed against him.
Espinosa is reportedly confined in one of the private hospitals here. If he will not be prosecuted and sent to jail, do you think that, if the accusations against him are true, he will stop doing these? Remember that the illegal drugs trade is a very lucrative business.
What will happen after this “name and shame” act of the President? Will charges be filed against Mike? Mike is now a civilian, so he can no longer be charged administratively unlike incumbent elective officials. The Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) can initiate administrative proceedings against them. To what agency can Mike go to clear his name?
The burden of proof against Mike is with the authorities. But given the difficulty in looking for an evidence against him, the former mayor can just sit back and relax because he can possibly evade criminal prosecution. But as far as public perception is concerned, Mike's image has been shattered. His dignity has been lost.
If he cannot redeem himself from these “baseless and unfounded” allegations, this might be the end of his colorful political career. You know, the public is very judgmental. They jump into conclusion without verifying the bottom line and the facts of the issue. Read the reactions of netizens in various social media platforms; they already condemned Mike as if he is guilty of the accusations.
How can Mike redeem himself? No agency can clear his name, not even the PNP or the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) that fed the President the “narco list.” He went to PDEA central office but he got nothing.
The person that can clear his name is only the President himself. That is, if Duterte rectifies the “error” and make another pronouncement, this time clearing Mike. But do you think the President will admit that he was wrong and make a public apology? I doubt. Those on the list cannot even file a case against him because he is immune from suit. If Mike cannot clear his name, the tag of being a “drug protector” will hound him up to his grave.
If he runs again in the next election and in the coming ones, this issue will surface against him. Kining maong isyu nga si Mike “drug protector” kanunay maghamok kaniya hangtud sa iyang lubnganan.