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President Duterte shocked the nation early Sunday by revealing the names of supposed drug personalities and protectors in the government during a speech in Davao City.
The President mentioned the names of 95 police and military officers, 52 current and former mayors and vice mayors, seven judges, three congressmen, and one former board member.
The police officials were ordered to report to the office of the Philippine National Police Chief (PNP), Director-General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa; the military to the Armed Forces Chief of Staff; the local government officials to the Department Interior and Local Government; and the judges to the Supreme Court, all within 24 hours.
Duterte also ordered the removal of the named mayors’ supervision over the police assigned to their cities or towns.
On Monday, 35 policemen and 27 local government leaders “surrendered” at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame and denied any involvement in illegal drugs.
A fuming PNP chief cursed the cops, who turned themselves in, for allowing themselves to be included on the narco list and bringing shame to the whole organization.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, meanwhile, wrote the President expressing her concern over the judges he named.
Sereno revealed that a female Cavite judge on the list had been dismissed in 2007 for gross ignorance of the law, and was no longer part of the judiciary.
Another judge, from Calbayog City, was killed in January 2008. Also, one judge retired last June 20 while four other judges do not have jurisdiction over drug cases.
Sereno raised a valid point when she questioned the specifics on how judges without jurisdiction over drug cases can influence the drug trade in their localities.
Early on, Duterte already clarified that he would take full responsibility for the list. The President said that if he ended up being wrong, then he was sorry, but his duty was to reveal it to the Filipino people.
At this point, there is no way to be certain that the names on the President’s list are accurate.
But Duterte’s desire to apologize if any mistake was made shows a side of the President not often seen in public.
Indeed, it takes a big man to admit if and when he is wrong. And that is how a president should act.
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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email email@example.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column athttp://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/ (Robert B. Roque, Jr.)