Sun.Star Cebu

Presidenti­al visits

- NINI CABAERO ninicab@sunstar.com.ph

Avisit by the country’s top leader usually means special attention to the place being visited. To be away from office entails leaving pressing matters behind to go to a city or province far from the seat of national power. There must be meaning then to a presidenti­al visit.

President Rodrigo Duterte came to Cebu twice in the second half of August. The first was on August 21 when he spoke before Cebu mayors and the second was last August 30 to join in the celebratio­n of Mandaue City’s 49th Charter Day.

Some may say Duterte’s pronouncem­ents – lambasting the police and drug enforcemen­t agents for involvemen­t in the drug trade last August 21 and hitting at Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s arrogance last August 30 – were good for Cebu. I am not sure. What happens next after Duterte’s visit is what will prove that the special attention to Cebu was beneficial.

Duterte told members of the League of Municipali­ties of the Philippine­s - Visayas island cluster last August 21 that Cebu’s policemen and Philippine Drug Enforcemen­t Agency (PDEA) 7 agents are “drug addicts.”

“Pulis ninyo diri sa Cebu, puro adik. Halos tanan, hasta inyong mga opisyal, hasta inyong mga PDEA. Imbes nagtaas nang rango, p ***** i** niya,” Duterte said. (Your policemen in Cebu are all addicts, almost everybody, even your officials and your PDEA. To think that you were promoted to a higher rank).

What followed after that visit was a “One Time, Big Time” police operation where at least three drug suspects were killed and several arrested. Two days after that visit, the PDEA had 96 of its personnel undergo a surprise mandatory drug test. None was found positive for drug use. There were no arrests of police personnel or PDEA agents. Where did Duterte get his informatio­n? What happened before Duterte gave such statement was the killing of two PDEA 7 agents. Their deaths remain unsolved.

Then, on August 30, Duterte returned to Cebu and, in a speech, insulted Mayor Osmeña for “hubris’’ and thinking he owned Cebu. “Hoy, Tomas, dili na ni panahon sa Katsila. Kanang style nimo nga mura ka’g si kinsa, taas kaayo ka manulti. Ingon pa ka nga ako protector ng shabu. Ingnan tika magkita ta. Anak ka ng p***, ayaw pagtoong kinsa. Dili gani ta magkasinab­ot sa atong storya tamparuson taka sa daghang tawo,” he said.

(This is no longer the Spanish era. Your arrogant style of speaking is not acceptable. You said I am a protector of shabu - illegal drug trade. If we see each other... If we cannot come to an understand­ing, I will slap you.)

Duterte went on to make fun of Osmeña’s urinary catheter that Osmeña has been using since a 2008 surgery to remove his urinary bladder, prostate and lymph nodes.

It is not clear what action Duterte would take against Osmeña or if he has ordered any agency to act. This uncertaint­y over what will happen next raises these questions – Is Cebu no longer in the President’s priority list? What are the consequenc­es for Cebu?

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