MANILA — Government on Friday said there were no sacred cows in its drug war, after President Rodrigo Duterte accused one of the candidates in next year's presidential election of using cocaine.
Duterte on Thursday claimed that a wealthy presidential candidate, whom he described as a "weak leader", supposedly uses cocaine. The remark raised questions on whether charges were filed against the contender, and if this showed the President's drug war only targeted the poor.
"Wala po tayong sinasanto dito, walang pinipiling social rank o status," Duterte’s acting spokesman Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said of the drug crackdown.
"Lahat po ‘yan, basta sangkot sa droga ay kakasuhan natin, huhulihin natin, ipo-prosecute po natin," he said in a press briefing.
(There are no sacred cows here, we do not look at social rank or status. As long as they are involved in drugs, we will charges against them, arrest them, prosecute them.)
Pressed on whether or not Duterte would order charges to be filed against the candidate, Nograles said, "Lahat ng mga enforcement agencies natin ay mandated naman. Walang pinipili 'yan na indibidwal."
(All our enforcement agencies are mandated, they do not favor any individual.)
Detained Sen. Leila De Lima on Friday said Duterte seemed to have known the contender's alleged drug ties all along.
"While unnamed, it’s pretty obvious who he’s referring to. Kung ganoon, dapat pala siya ang pinakulong mo, hindi ako. Hindi ba kasama ang cocaine sa drug war mo?" she said on Twitter.
A fierce critic of the narcotics war, De Lima has been jailed since 2017 for drug trafficking charges which she maintained were politically motivated. Duterte's government denies this.
Video courtesy of PTV
"Let's leave it to the President and his judgement kung papangalanan ba niya, and if so, kung kailan niya papangalanan (if he will name the candidate, and if so, when)," Nograles said of the presidential contender.
The official said Duterte had many public events lined up. He added the President "has access to many sources, including intel reports."
The International Criminal Court is looking into thousands of killings under Duterte' drug war. Analysts say it is crucial for a loyal successor to shield him from legal charges.
The President in October said his daughter would vie for his post, with his closes aide Sen. Christopher Go as running-mate.
But she registered over the weekend as a substitute candidate for vice president, despite leading surveys for the top job. Displeased, Duterte blamed her decision on her running-mate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, and even threatened to run for vice president, too.
But Duterte, who is banned from seeking reelection by the constitution, ended up filing a candidacy for senator on Monday. He reiterated on Thursday that Go was his anointed successor.