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Duterte: Defense chief a US gov’t spy

By: Genalyn D. Kabiling

Is the country’s Defense chief an alleged spy of the United States? President Duterte apparently thinks so.
The President said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has become an “agent” of the US after taking military studies there years ago.

“Matagal na ‘yan sa America siya. Alam ko siya eh, agent ‘yan siya pero okay lang,” Duterte said during the Department of Justice anniversary rites last Tuesday night while sharing how his friendship with Lorenzana started.

Aware of his Cabinet member’s ties with Washington, the President even asked Lorenzana to send a message to the US that he has no disdain for them.

“Sabi ko kasi magbolahan naman kaming dalawa, eh ‘di ito sabihin mo sa kanila. Ako, many – many issues ako diyan sa ano but I do not hate America. I mean, I don’t… Wala akong dynamics sa mga tao,” he told Lorenzana, who was present during the DoJ event at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

Duterte instead warned the United States about the involvement of two international crime syndicates – Bamboo and 14K Triads – in large-scale drug trafficking in Southeast Asia.

He said the country has become a “transshipment” hub of illegal drugs to the US. He noted that the Americans are the “richest market” for illegal drugs, compared to the small market in the country.

“Kung maniwala ang America, mabuti. Kung hindi kayo maniwala, mabuti, basta sinabi ko sa inyo,” he said.

Duterte said he became friends with Lorezana shortly after their first meeting in Davao City several years ago.

Lorenzana led a Scout Ranger battalion in Malagos District while Duterte was mayor of Davao City.

“Bumilib ako sa tao,” he said. “When I was shopping for my Cabinet, I remembered him. Eh talagang honest, tapos istrikto,” he added.

The country’s ties with the United States have been strained after Duterte took offense at US President Barack Obama’s human rights concerns over his brutal drug war.

The bilateral ties, however, later improved after newly-elected US President Donald Trump praised Duterte for his anti-drug campaign.