MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim of drug use against a presidential candidate drew various comments from several hopefuls Friday, with some proposing the filing of charges against the aspirant as they clarified they were not the target of the allegation.
On Thursday, Duterte claimed that a presidential bet is a known cocaine user. He alleged that the person he was referring to came from a wealthy family and has an influential last name but with a "weak character."
"Bakit ang Pilipino parang lokong-loko na supporting? Magtanong lang ako sa inyo, ano ang ginawa n’yan? Nagdo-droga ‘yan ng cocaine ang tirada n’yan," Duterte said.
(Why are Filipinos fooled into supporting? I will just ask you, what has he done? He uses cocaine.)
In response Friday, presidential candidates Vice President Leni Robredo and labor leader Leody De Guzman urged the government to file charges against the presidential aspirant allegedly involved in drugs.
Robredo said the President has access to confidential information and he would know proof to the allegation.
“Kung mayroong ebidensya kelangang kasuhan kasi ito ang nakasaad sa ating batas, hindi dapat ito dinadaan sa ganitong paraan,” the Vice President said.
(If there's evidence, that person should be charged. This is what's written in our law so this should be how it is supposed to be handled.)
De Guzman echoed Robredo's sentiments and said Duterte might know who the candidate's supplier is. The root cause of the problem should be targeted, he said.
"'Yan dapat ang pokusan para mahuli at matigil na... Kaysa i-tsismis lang, ipahuli na ang kandidatong 'yan para ipa-rehab," said De Guzman.
(That should be the focus so it could be stopped. Instead of mere gossip, that candidate should be taken into custody and be put into rehab.)
"Sa dami ng kasalanan, ninakaw at pinatay ng pamilya niyan, malulong talaga sa droga 'yan para takasan ang katotohanan," he said, apparently having a hunch on who the target is.
(That family has killed many people and has also stolen money. I think that's the reason why that person got addicted— to escape the truth.)
Robredo, De Guzman, and Sen. Manny Pacquiao also called for mandatory drug testing of individuals who want to work in government, especially those applying to become the country's top leader.
Pacquiao, however, noted that he is "not in a position" to judge the person because everyone deserves a second chance to live.
"Mandatory drug test must be required for anyone who wants to work in government, elective or appointed... Lahat naman po ay may karapatan na magbagong-buhay," said Pacquiao.
(Everyone deserves a chance to reform.)
"I am willing to undergo drug test anytime and anywhere. Sana ganyan din ang ating mga kapwa kandidato. Mas maganda kung hair follicle test para mas sigurado."
(I hope other candidates will undergo drug test too. It's better if it is a hair follicle test.)
Robredo also reiterated her earlier call that she and her fellow presidential aspirants should undergo surprise drug testing.
“Papano kasi natin malalabanan ang droga kung wala tayong moral authority paano lalabanan ito, ang kailangan 'yung tao magtiwala sa akin, hindi natin malalabanan ang korapsyon kung ang nakaupo ay hindi malinis kaya kung lalabanan natin ang droga pinaka-una dapat 'yung nagko-call the shots ay malinis,” Robredo said, noting that the President was not referring to her.
(How can we fight illegal drugs if we do not have a moral authority? How can the people trust us? We cannot even fight corruption if those in power are corrupt. If we will fight illegal drugs, the person on top should be clean.)
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, meanwhile, denied that Duterte's statement was intended for him. He said both his parents were poor.
Domagoso said he tried almost all kinds of liquor when he was younger, but never illegal drugs.
"'Yung nanay ko napakadisiplinaryan. Napakahigpit. Mamula lang mata ko noong araw may konyat na ako," he said.
(My mom is a disciplinarian and very strict since I was a child. If she would see me with eyes red, I'd be getting it.)
The Manila Mayor said he is willing to undergo a drug test in public, adding it should be a requirement among elected officials.
"If a president will fight against drugs as a matter of policy then dapat talaga kami rin [magdrug test] (then we should also do it)," he said.
"What kind of moral ascendency do we have if we do not do that?"
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former police chief, begged off comment on the President's revelations but said he is "100 percent sure" that Duterte was not talking about him.
Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has yet to release a statement on the matter, but in April 2016, he said he was willing to undergo a drug test "to show his sincerity to fight illegal drugs."
“Everyone must take a drug test because that’s the only way we can show to the voters that we will indeed fight illegal drugs,” he had said.
Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, is running for vice president in tandem with Marcos Jr.
Duterte-Carpio earlier confirmed her tandem with Marcos Jr., a defeated vice presidential candidate in the 2016 elections. She said they failed to get PDP-Laban's backing for the tandem.
Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, another aspirant and Duterte ally, also has yet to comment on the matter.
Women's group Gabriela, meanwhile, said Duterte and the person in his blind item are both "addicted to power."
“Adik sila pareho. Hindi lang adik pareho kundi adik sa kapangyarihan. So iyan ang pagtatalo ng dalawang siguro big families. Kahit nag-a-allude lang si Duterte sa usapin ng sino nag-aadik. Pero pareho sila adik sa kapangyarihan," Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas said.
(They are both addicted to power. That is a fight against 2 big families even if Duterte is just alluding to who's the addict.)
The PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi pointed out that Duterte just wants people to "carefully discern" their next president.
"That person should be able to guarantee continuity of the Administration’s programs, not just by mere lip service, but by concrete actions," their statement read.
Duterte has pursued a fierce war on drugs, with thousands killed leading to a case before the International Criminal Court. Government has denied abuses in the campaign.
At least 6,181 people have died in more than 200,000 anti-drug operations conducted since July 2016, the start of Duterte's term in office, according to the latest official data released by the Philippine government.
The Philippines has come under pressure from the United Nations to investigate allegations of systematic murders of drug suspects, and the International Criminal Court after announcing it would investigate Duterte's anti-drug campaign.
— Reports from Job Manahan, Jamaine Punzalan, Katrina Domingo, Willard Cheng, and Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News