MANILA, Philippines – Faced with the possibility of being shot on sight, two mayors wept before President Duterte as they pleaded with him to spare their lives and the humiliation of being publicly identified as local officials with links to the illegal drug trade.
Duterte said he ordered the concerned law enforcement agencies to assess the report identifying the two local executives as “drug protectors” before deciding whether to release the list to the public.
“The two offered to resign,” Duterte said, adding he refused to accept the resignation pending further investigation.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, for his part, said some governors and mayors from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao believed to be involved in illegal drug operations were now seeking refuge in Marawi City.
Speaking to reporters at Malacañang, Duterte said the two mayors paid him a visit at the Palace and tried to clear their names.
One of the two said some drug suspects could be dropping their names to evade arrest, Duterte said.
The President said politicians’ careers would be destroyed once they are accused in public, even wrongfully.
In the case of those allegedly involved, Duterte explained he was making sure that the list was double-checked and verified before he would make any announcement.
Unlike in the case of the so-called narco-generals, Duterte said he wanted to validate further the category of the two executives’ alleged drug-coddling activities.
“Sabi ko, I will revalidate… kung nakalagay protector lang, what kind of protector: there are two kinds – the one that protects by telling (lawmen) not to touch them, ‘those are my men’, or ‘don’t touch them, their (operations were cleared with me)’,” Duterte said.
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