Fabricated drug raps a common feature of Duterte’s war on drugs – De Lima


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has stressed that the reported fabrication of the involvement of Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino in illegal drugs before he was murdered under the hands of the police is proof that political persecution has become common practice under the Duterte regime.

De Lima, a staunch human rights and social justice champion, said that like the “nanlaban” narrative, concocted drug raps against targeted personalities, including political opponents, are a common feature of Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, citing her own situation as an example of case fabrication.

“The revelations of Police Master Sgt. Jose Jay Senario on how Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino was framed for illegal drug raps by his political rival with the help of PNP officers before he was ambushed and assassinated paints a dire picture of the extent political persecution has reached under the Duterte Administration,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1074.

“I cannot avoid comparing my fate with that of Aquino, since like me he was framed and made a subject of bogus drug charges. At least I am still alive. Aquino was not so fortunate. Failing to get rid of him through a frame-up, his enemies with the help of PNP officers simply chose to kill him,” she added.

It may be recalled that Aquino and his two drivers were killed on March 8, in what was initially reported as an ambush, but members of PNP later claimed that it was a shootout between the mayor’s team and the police.

However, in a recent Senate investigation, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Eastern Visayas said their probe based on the affidavits of 53 witnesses and CCTV footage found that that the ambush was planned for months by members of Samar police.

Likewise, Police Master Sgt. Senario revealed that he, in alleged collusion with a politician and some police officers, concocted stories on Aquino’s involvement in illegal drug trading prior to the Mayor’s death.

Senario said that sometime in 2018, he was “utilized” by Police Captain Joselito Tabada, who also died the same day as Aquino, on at least two occasions to invent sworn statements on the Mayor’s alleged involvement in illegal drugs to help the cops secure a search warrant to be used against the Mayor.

The lady Senator from Bicol said she hopes that those who were intimidated by the Duterte regime to implicate her in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison would also come forward to speak the truth about her case like Senario did.

“I look forward to the day when those who took part in this despicable project reveal the truth, and that any one or some of the prosecution witnesses against me come forward to confess, just like Sgt. Senario, on how they were forced and intimidated by Duterte’s henchmen like former DOJ Sec. Aguirre, SOLGEN Calida, PAO Chief Acosta, Sandra Cam, and other officials hiding in the shadows, to fabricate drug charges against me,” she said.

De Lima stressed that it is about time the drug watchlists are exposed for what they are, as unconstitutional and illegal instruments for witch hunts and for intimidating politicians and even ordinary individuals who refuse to bend the knee to Duterte.

“I laud the decision of the Court of Appeals to finally rule on the unconstitutionality of Duterte’s so-called drug lists of political personalities involved in the illegal drug business, when it granted the habeas data petition of Leyte Cong. Vicente Veloso,” she said.

“Although the CA decision came too late to protect the reputation and the life of Mayor Aquino, at least it could now be used to protect the life of Cong. Veloso. This also serves as a wake-up call to the judiciary. Their inaction in the past four years on cases of human rights violations in the course of Duterte’s drug war has already cost so many lives,” she added.

Last March, De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 683 calling for a Senate investigation into the continuing attacks and killings of local chief executives across the country, including that of Aquino. (30)

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