Bato: Duterte ‘punched wall’ in rage over drug lords’ case

By: March 17,2018 - 09:21 AM
Philippine National Police Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Friday lashed out at critics who had described the government’s war on drugs as a ruse following the recent dismissal of cases against several suspected drug lords, including confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa.

The PNP chief fumed as he disclosed that President Duterte had “punched a wall in Malacañang,” causing his hand to swell, in a fit of rage over the dismissal.

Speaking to reporters after the inauguration of the PNP’s one-stop shop at Camp Crame in Quezon City, Dela Rosa said in Filipino: “To all those saying that our war on drugs is a moro-moro, I am mad at you. Moro-moro your face.”

Moro-moro is a pejorative term used to describe the plays popularized by Spanish friars in colonial-era Philippines, which dramatized the triumph of Christian forces against the Muslim natives who were often portrayed as brigands. The politically incorrect term now refers to any form of farce or ruse.

Dela Rosa said Mr. Duterte learned about the dismissal of the drug charges against the suspected drug lords, including Espinosa and businessman Peter Lim, only when it was reported in mainstream media.

‘Look at his hand’

“(President Duterte) had so many things on his mind, not only this case,” the PNP chief said, adding that he himself did not give the cases’ dismissal much thought when the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief told him about it.

The President got mad, Dela Rosa said. “Just look at how his hand [had become] swollen. He was so furious when he found out that he punched a wall at Malacañang. Is that moro-moro?”

The PNP official cited the death of 108 police officers as proof that the drug war was real. “We are dealing with lives. More than 4,000 have died and it’s still moro-moro?” Dela Rosa said.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Friday that he would quit his post if he failed to find “justification” on why suspected drug lords Lim and Espinosa should be charged.

In a radio interview, Aguirre said the dismissal “could still be corrected” as the cases would be forwarded to him for review.

“That is our promise to our President. If the complaint reaches my office and I would be unable to find a way to justify the filing of this case before the court, that could be a reason for my resignation,” he said.

Duterte’s trust

Aguirre, who said he still enjoys President Duterte’s trust, also admitted that it was him who had recommended Assistant State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes’ promotion as a Regional Trial Court judge in Lucena City, Quezon. “It’s not the fault of Reyes because we have the presumption of regularity,” he said of the prosecutors’ decision to clear Lim and Espinosa.

Dela Rosa had slammed the panel of prosecutors for dismissing the cases and said that they could have informed the CIDG to strengthen its cases instead of dropping them outright.

Reyes said they dismissed the drug charges because the lone witness presented by the police gave inconsistent and uncorroborated testimony.

He said the prosecutors could not insist on using Espinosa’s testimony and confession before the Senate since it was never presented before them. It was not their job to gather evidence, Reyes stressed.

Dela Rosa disagreed.

“It is not their duty to gather evidence but they should have at least told us. They may say that they are not duty-bound to advise the CIDG. but there is the matter of their conscience,” the PNP chief said, adding that Espinosa’s confession was widely known.

“If your (prosecution panel’s) appreciation of the evidence is weak, you [could] have texted (Director Roel) Obusan that you were going to dismiss the case,” Dela Rosa said.

No-show at parade

In Davao City, Mr. Duterte was a no-show in Friday’s Parada Dabawenyo, one of the highlights of the 81st Araw ng Dabaw, with Malacañang sources citing his busy schedule.

Mr. Duterte had often presented Davao as his “Exhibit A,” in the parade, which serves as the final event among the activities lined up for the celebration.

Before being elected President, Mr. Duterte served as mayor, vice mayor and congressman of the city for more than 22 years.

“There is no PRRD [guesting] in the Araw ng Davao events,” said Orly Escarilla, spokesperson of the Araw  celebrations.

Another source said that while he was not present at any of the Araw events, Mr. Duterte went around the city on Thursday night.

In an ambush interview with reporters in Davao, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go said the President was resting and that one of his hands had become swollen.

“It used to be that when his hands got inflamed, it meant that he had hit some people for committing crimes like theft, snatching, etc.,” said Go who, when pressed, however said that the swelling might be “because of work. He signs a lot of documents,” he added.

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TAGS: Bato de la Rosa, drug lords, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, PNP

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