‘REPENT, QUIT OR DIE’

Some may­ors told the In­quirer last night that Pres­i­dent Duterte iden­ti­fied the lo­cal ex­ec­u­tives in­volved in drugs, cursed them and warned them they would be killed

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - STORY BY THE IN­QUIRER BUREAUS

Repent, re­sign or die.

That was the mes­sage may­ors, bused in batches to Mala­cañang, got dur­ing ex­ple­tivelaced group meet­ings with Pres­i­dent Duterte on Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to par­tic­i­pants.

The Pres­i­dent bran­dished a pur­ported list of of­fi­cials—in­clud­ing may­ors, leg­is­la­tors and barangay cap­tains—but the may­ors had no op­por­tu­nity to check if they were on it, ac­cord­ing to one source.

In a text mes­sage, Mayor Krisel Lag­man Luistro of Tabaco City in Al­bay said: “The Pres­i­dent warned us that those in­volved in drugs should stop or face the con­se­quences. He specif­i­cally said that he will kill who­ever is in­volved. It was fair warn­ing.”

The Pres­i­dent’s spokesper­son, Ernesto Abella, de­clined to give de­tails of the meet­ings, which be­gan shortly af­ter noon and were still go­ing on by early evening.

Abella said the Pres­i­dent in­tended to have a “con­ver­sa­tion” with the may­ors, and it was safe to as­sume that the nar­cotics trade was among the top­ics to be tack­led.

“He has not re­ally met with the may­ors in or­der to di­rectly dis­cuss his po­si­tions, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing crim­i­nal­ity, crime and drugs. It’s safe to as­sume that would be part of the con­ver­sa­tion,” Abella told re­porters.

He said he would de­scribe the meet­ing as a “di­a­logue be­tween the Pres­i­dent and his ex­ec­u­tives.”

Mr. Duterte met the may­ors clus­tered ac­cord­ing to re­gions. They were brought to Mala­cañang by bus, shut­tled from the Philip­pine In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Pasay City.

On Mon­day, Mr. Duterte warned lo­cal chief ex­ec­u­tives to steer clear of the trade in “shabu,” or the hugely pop­u­lar crys­tal meth.

He said those in­volved in the drug trade should ei­ther re­sign “or make a clean breast of ev­ery­thing, come up with a clean nose.”

“I will talk to them. With the thick doc­u­ment I showed you, I will tell them, ‘Look for your name there, mayor, you son of a bitch. If your name is there, you will have a prob­lem. I will re­ally kill you.’”

“As long as I’m Pres­i­dent, these big shabu deal­ers will die and the next batch would re­ally be these may­ors. I will call them and lock them up,” he said.

Those whose names are on his nar­col­ist would have a prob­lem, he said.

Three may­ors from Que­zon prov­ince, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, said the Pres­i­dent did not link any­one in the group, mostly from Lu­zon, to the drug trade.

“He was cool. But he was in his nat­u­ral self … curs­ing and all,” one mayor said in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

“At least in our batch, the Pres­i­dent did not call out any name. He just kept on talk­ing. He asked for our sup­port in the drug war and in solv­ing the coun­try’s prob­lems,” the mayor said.

The In­quirer sources said they were asked to leave their mo­bile phones with se­cu­rity per­son­nel be­fore they pro­ceeded to a hall where the Pres­i­dent met them.

Of the 39 mu­nic­i­pal may­ors and two city may­ors of Que­zon, only four were not able to at­tend the meet­ing, the third source said.

“Duterte was jovial. He was even jok­ing dur­ing his 30- to 40-minute speech in our batch. But he did his usual curs­ing,” said an­other mayor, also from Que­zon.

But in a meet­ing with an­other group, also from Lu­zon, the Pres­i­dent was de­scribed as in “a very bad mood.”

“May­ors en­gag­ing in il­le­gal drug trade and cor­rup­tion were cursed and threat­ened,” a mayor in that group said in a text mes­sage in Filipino.

The source said Mr. Duterte again men­tioned Vi­cente Loot, a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer and now mayor of Daan­ban­tayan in Cebu, as among those in­volved.

“He was re­ally an­gry at Loot,” the source said, adding that the Pres­i­dent also named nine judges on his nar­col­ist.

Shoot-to-kill or­ders

Mayor Anida Di­maukom, of Datu Saudi Am­pat­uan town in Maguin­danao, did not at­tend the meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to her brother-in-law, Coun­cilor Zay­ton Di­maukom.

Anida is for­merly the town’s vice mayor. She re­placed her hus­band, Sam­sudin Di­maukom, who was killed in an al­leged shootout with po­lice in North Cota­bato in Oc­to­ber. The Pres­i­dent had linked the cou­ple to il­le­gal drugs.

Dur­ing a meet­ing with one group from the Visayas, the Pres­i­dent said he had di­rected the chiefs of po­lice of towns and cities to shoot may­ors in­volved in drugs.

“He said he will pro­tect the po­lice­men and even grant them par­don if they will be con­victed,” a par­tic­i­pant said. “Wewere silent when the Pres­i­dent said this while we were at the Rizal Hall. But many of us felt that we were threat­ened.”

“He said the list was val­i­dated but we were not shown the list and we do not know how we can check if we were mis­tak­enly in­cluded. We might be shot by our po­lice chief,” the mayor said.

The Pres­i­dent also cited slain Al­buera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. in Leyte and Iloilo City Mayor Jed Pa­trick Ma­bilog who, he said, was close to a slain al­leged drug lord, Melvin Odicta.

Ma­bilog, who was at the meet­ing, kept shak­ing his head, ac­cord­ing to the mayor seated near him.

Co­op­er­ate or else

“We have to be co­op­er­a­tive or else we will be in­cluded in the list,” Mayor Therese Si­toyCho of Cor­dova town in Cebu said, re­fer­ring to a thick folder Mr. Duterte showed.

Mr. Duterte told the may­ors that he would look into how each of them spent their in­tel­li­gence funds and ex­pected that it would go to the po­lice.

“He­wants our ar­eas cleared of il­le­gal drugs within the year,” Cho said.

The Pres­i­dent re­port­edly told the may­ors that the folder con­tained a “com­plete and ver­i­fied list” of all lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, “from may­ors down to barangay of­fi­cials,” in­volved in il­le­gal drugs.

Ac­cord­ing to Cho, there were a few may­ors ab­sent dur­ing the meet­ing, though she did not know who.

Re­fer­ring to may­ors who failed to at­tend the meet­ing, the Pres­i­dent re­port­edly said: “noted mo” (you are noted).

“This is not an or­der, this is a plea. Co­op­er­ate lang gyud mo para way sa­bod (Just co­op­er­ate to avoid trou­ble),” Cho quoted the Pres­i­dent as say­ing.

—JOANBONDOC

‘KANPAI’ Be­fore meet­ing with the may­ors, Pres­i­dent Duterte drinks cider in lead­ing the toast to mem­bers of the diplo­matic corps in his first “vin d’hon­neur” in Mala­cañang. He told them that the Philip­pines would strengthen ex­ist­ing friend­ships and forge new ones with na­tions.

—MALACAÑANGPHOTO

NAR­COL­IST In many in­stances, Pres­i­dent Duterte has shown a thick list of gov­ern­ment and po­lice of­fi­cials in­volved in drug traf­fick­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

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