Rodrigo Duterte Finds Accused Drug Smuggler He Might Not Shoot. Surprise, It Is His Son!
Man has got to have a code.
If there's one thing Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte is known for, it's his very literal war on drugs, which has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers or users by police and militias. But now his son and son-in-law are denying claims they were involved in a plot to smuggle 1,300 pounds of methamphetamine, worth about $125 million, into the Philippines, so Duterte has suddenly discovered a deep appreciation for due process and the rights of the accused. Imagine that!
Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio, who is married to the president's daughter Sarah Duterte, were mentioned by a broker who arranged the shipment, Mark Taguba. Taguba, who was arrested in July, said the group he was working for claimed it had connections to Paolo Duterte and Carpio. The two haven't been charged with a crime, but they testified before a Philippines Senate committee investigating the drug shipment Thursday.
Carpio insisted, "My brother-in-law and I have been publicly crucified based on rumors and gossip,” although unlike many of those accused by the Duterte regime of using or selling drugs, they haven't been shot down in the streets in the middle of the night, which is considerably worse than the metaphorical form of crucifixion. Still, President Duterte believes in consequences, and has
repeatedly said he’ll resign if any of his family members are found guilty of corruption or involvement with drug smuggling [...]
“Both gentlemen are willing and ready to face malicious allegations intended to impugn their character and credibility,” Duterte’s official spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Thursday before the men spoke. “The president has said in numerous occasions that he would not interfere.”
The Senate is investigating the deal following the resignation of the country's customs chief, Nicanor Faeldon, who has been accused by lawmakers of letting the meth shipment get past customs inspectors.
Taguba had mentioned Carpio and the younger Duterte in a different hearing on August 7 before the House of Representatives, saying that while he'd never seen them, he'd dealt with people who'd mentioned them by name and also accepted protection money, allegedly on their behalf. But last week, according to Bloomberg Politics,
Taguba issued a statement attempting to clear the pair of any involvement in illegal drugs or anomalies at customs.
One would have to be a very cynical person indeed to speculate whether Taguba was perhaps persuaded by some unknown party to clarify that he no longer thinks Duterte fils and Carpio have anything to do with drugs, now wouldn't one?
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (not the ABC we have here) reports some additional circumstantial evidence:
Senator Antonio Trillanes, a staunch critic of the President, displayed to the Senate panel photographs of Paolo beside a businessman who was behind the shipment in which the alleged drugs were found.
Senator Trillanes also said he had intelligence information from a foreign country that Paolo [...] was a member of a Chinese criminal syndicate, citing as proof a "dragon-like" tattoo with secret digits on his back.
When asked about the tattoo, Paolo admitted that he had one, but declined to describe it, invoking his right to privacy. When pressed if he would allow a photograph to be taken of the tattoo and sent to the US Drug Enforcement Agency to decode secret digits, Paolo refused.
Bloomberg adds that President Duterte has really taken a liking to civil liberties, especially in the case of the Son with the Dragon Tattoo:
previously advised both men to tell the truth, even as he said that his son can invoke his “right to silence,” according to a transcript of his remarks to reporters on Sept. 3.
We're really trying hard not to normalize a president who buddies around with a dictator who blithely murders his own people. Sadly, that seems to be the norm now.
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