President Duterte’s public attacks on Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo City show a brazen disregard for the rule of law.
Instead of the accusers having to prove their accusations, the accused are now virtually sentenced to death without the benefit of defending themselves. Sending Police Chief Inspector Jovani Espenido to Iloilo City does not assure the people of that city that their Mayor will be accorded the right to defend himself from Duterte’s accusations that he is a drug trade protector or a drug lord.
If he is sure that Mabilog is guilty, Duterte should direct the DOJ to file the necessary cases against him, and let Mabilog have his day in court, the same way he expects his own son Paolo not to be adjudged guilty without a fair trial. So far, not an iota of evidence has been shown to the public to prove that Mayor Mabilog is what Duterte says he is, a drug protector.
What the President is presenting is a so-called narco-list, a notoriously unreliable document good only for a WITCH HUNT, but not as evidence before a court of law. On the other hand, witnesses have already come forward connecting his own son Paolo to the so-called Davao Group that facilitated the 6.4B shabu shipment through Customs, not to mention the statements of Edgar Matobato and Arturo Lascañas. However, up to this time, Paolo Duterte is yet to find his name in his father’s narco-list.
There cannot be swift “nanlaban” justice for Mabilog, but constitutional due process for the presidential son. There should be no double standards. We know that Duterte’s son is an “untouchable”, but his father should at least pretend that he is fair, and send Espenido to Davao, instead of Iloilo. P6.4B of shabu imported by the Davao Group is no joking matter.
By all credible accounts, Mayor Mabilog is a model public official. He landed in the Top 5 of the 2014 search for the best world mayors conducted by the international group City Mayors Foundation. He has turned around and developed Iloilo City into one of the fastest-growing local economies in the country. The vibrancy of its community is a testament to how Iloilo has been transformed into a progressive city under Mabilog’s leadership.
Mayor Mabilog’s list of awards and accomplishments is no easy feat. One cannot make up this track record and receive international recognition for it while secretly being a drug lord on the side. Mabilog’s track record speaks for itself. On the other hand, Duterte’s history of lying and admission to planting evidence and making up stories is public knowledge.
As a victim myself of the President’s persecution and vindictiveness, I cannot but see similarities in the destruction of Mayor Mabilog’s public persona by the President and my own experience. Reputations that we have built through hard work and selfless dedication to public service are demolished overnight on the say-so of the President. For Mayor Mabilog, it could be as worse as being sentenced to death with the assignment of Espenido to Iloilo City.
I join the people of Iloilo City in praying for the safety of their Mayor and his family. I pray for Espenido to live his Christian faith, and for him to have the conscience to tell the difference between the truth and the lies, and not to play God like Duterte. Most importantly, I continue to pray that no one who is innocent, or even guilty, be condemned without due process of law.