There will be more than the usual number of eyes and ears peeled in today’s scheduled Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment that somehow made it past Customs in May this year.
That’s because, pending a last-minute cancellation, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law lawyer Manases Carpio are expected to attend today’s hearing to shed light on the case by answering questions about their alleged involvement in the shipment.
When President Rodrigo Duterte first got wind of the Senate hearing, his initial response was that his son dealt in “ukay-ukay” or used clothing and nothing more.
The President was even confident that his son can take care of this problem. But as the hearings progressed and news of the so-called “Davao City group” surfaced thanks to text messages disclosed by broker-wannabe/fixer Mark Taguba claiming their involvement in the drug shipment, the President changed his tune and advised his son to invoke his right against self-incrimination and even offered to provide lawyers to the resource persons to be invited to the hearing.
This is where things get clouded in an atmosphere of suspicion and outright cynicism over the independence and capability of the Senate to really get to the core of the issue — who were the responsible parties and who benefited from this whole incident?
The two Chinese businessmen implicated in the uncovered drug shipment, Michael Tan and Kenneth Dong, as expected vehemently denied their involvement and were detained at the Senate, but what else can be done to determine whether or not they were complicit in the crime?
But we doubt whether the Senate can determine if Paolo Duterte and Carpio are tied to the drug shipment since in the first place it isn’t a court hearing and the two men are not on trial for the case.
The President’s advice to his son to invoke his right against self-incrimination may have already laid the ground for how the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing will be conducted even though Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said he will find ways to get around this.
Will this result in yet another confrontation with Sen. Richard Gordon, who had been accused by Trillanes of badgering small fry but going soft on those allied with the administration?
The multibillion-peso shabu smuggling case strikes at the heart of the Duterte administration’s war against illegal drugs, and unless there is an unexpected development that will occur in today’s hearing, the P6.4-billion smuggling case merely reinforces public suspicion of connivance between people in the halls of power and the country’s drug lords.
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