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‘PH faces clear and present danger from drug problem’

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The country faces a “clear and present danger” from the drug problem, prompting President Duterte to go on a name-and-shame campaign against government officials involved in the illicit trade.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella made the statement in defense of the President’s “radical action” in publicly identifying the drug-linked government officials.

As father of the nation, the President merely did his “moral responsibility” to warn the public about the “extraordinary danger” of illegal drugs in society, according to Abella.

“It’s his moral obligation to make sure public is properly warned of the drug menace. It is part of his duty to our citizens against those who present clear and present danger,” Abella said in a Palace press briefing.

“He is calling for a public outcry and the naming is part of the process, that there is such and such a situation and he is asking for the cooperation of the people and clear their names,” he added.

The President recently identified more than 150 government officials, including judges, local executives and policemen, who were supposedly involved in drug trafficking. Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno has voiced concern about the President’s premature announcement while other groups bewailed the drug-linked officials have become victims of trial by publicity.

Abella, however, made clear that the President did not necessarily interfere with the judiciary when he named some judges with alleged drug links.

“He is not interfering with the judicial branch he is simply calling attention,” he said. He added that these were “abnormal times that call for radical action.”

On speculations his action may spark a constitutional crisis, Abella said: “His position as parent of the nation transcends this particular legality you refer to.”

“He is exercising his position as father to the nation and calling attention to what is extraordinary situation facing society. In other words, it’s something equivalent to shouting fire, there is a fire in the house. It is his moral duty to warn people there is fire in the house,” he said.

Abella said the concerned officials were not arrested and instead have been given a chance to clear their names. “There is no action to arrest them, it was simply for them to be able to clarify their names simply because their names have come up,” he said.

Abella said the President’s list was “credible” but if there are mistakes, the concerned persons are encouraged to clarify their position. (GENALYN KABILING)