By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — We join our fellow “concerned” Ilonggos in the Philippines and abroad in the call for the League of the Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Iloilo Chapter to use all its resources to secure Mayors Alex Centena of Calinog, Mariano Malones of Maasin, and Siegfredo Betita of Carles.
The three are among the local chief executives in the Philippines linked by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in illegal drugs.
As among the country’s most outstanding mayors, they don’t deserve to die violently based on wrong information and accusation.
Even if they have repeatedly and emotionally denied their involvement in narcotics, their names have remained dangling in the controversial list.
It’s better to praise 40 thieves and pagans than to condemn and put to risk the life of an innocent person.
Some of the mayors included in the bloody list are now dead; killed violently by unidentified assailants in separate attacks even before they could clear their names.
There has been no assurance from the Philippine National Police (PNP) or even the President himself that the killings of “narco politicians’” will end soon.
In fact, the President himself has offered rewards for law enforcers who can kill drug traffickers.
President Duterte goaded and “inspired” uniformed personnel sworn to protect the civilians to commit a criminal act against both the drug addicts and drug traffickers.
He even sided with police officials and ordinary cops implicated in extra-judicial killings (EJK) involving suspected drug traffickers–civilians or government officials and rogue cops.
We are not saying that the President and the PNP are behind the murderous binge, but the words and body languages of some PNP generals, especially President Duterte himself, suggest that they don’t condemn and discourage the bloody murders.
As feared by many human rights watchdogs, “they may have even abetted it.”
There have been no solid pieces of evidence, of course, that would link President Duterte and the PNP, but the culture of impunity in the Philippines has been overwhelmingly associated with the administration’s “all out” campaign against illegal drugs.
Now that election season is fast approaching, some politicians and disgruntled syndicate leaders might take advantage of President Duterte’s controversial “narco list” and order the assassination of their opponents in the May 2019 elections who are on the list, to make it appear they were waylaid for their “involvement” in narcotics business.
Whether they are up for reelection, Mayors Centena, Malones, and Betita undoubtedly have been exposed to danger–including members of their family just like other mayors, governors and other elected public officials maligned by the feeble “narco list.”
We don’t point an accusing finger to the President and make conclusions with absolute certainty that he might order the murder of the three Ilonggo mayors, but according to his bombastic speeches in the past, he “will definitely kill” former Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog whom he accused of being a “narco politician” and “the cousin” of murdered Western Visayas drug lord Boyet Odicta.
In linking the mayors and other local government chief executives in illegal drugs, an outraged President Duterte said he based it on “intelligence reports” which could also be false or “doctored.”