DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 02 Sept) — President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge to anyone to prove his son Paolo’s alleged involvement in corruption or illegal drugs is not new: sixteen years ago, while serving as mayor of Davao City, he dared anyone to “produce a credible and true witness” that his son was involved in illegal drugs and he would resign as mayor and “even shoot my son in front of you” if anyone could show him proof.
No one came forward.
In November 2001, MindaNews ran a three-part series of a sit-down interview with Duterte, then on his fourth term after a three-year stint at the House of Representatives, on the rising body count of persons allegedly involved in illegal drugs, killed allegedly by vigilantes.
One of the questions MindaNews raised was about reports then that his son Paolo and relatives were involved in illegal drugs. Duterte replied: “Pati ako raw… Nag-research ako, and I studied the matter very carefully, seriously. Sinabi ko sa anak ko (Paolo), ‘wag na wag kang pumasok dyan sa put–nang droga na yan kasi gagawain kitang example. Kung kaya kong mag-resign (nung) nanuntok ka lang, kaya kitang patayin kung…hiyain mo ako'” (They said I was also involved. .. I researched, and I studied the matter very carefully, seriously. I told my son, ‘do not ever get into drugs because I will make you the example. If I could afford to resign when you punched someone, I can kill you if .. you embarrass me).
Duterte explained that he resigned as congressman “for a very trivial reason,” that his son punched a security guard and he was criticized because the victim allegedly could not file a case because he was a congressman.
He said he tendered his resignation so the victim could file charges. “Unfortunately, nobody accepted my resignation but I was ready to go down,” Duterte added.
“This time I’m ready,” the mayor added. “Just produce a credible and true witness (that my son is involved in drugs) and I’m going to resign as mayor of Davao City and I will shoot my son in front of you. Siguraduhin mo lang yan kay pag hindi, ikaw talaga babarilin ko. Yan ang trade off ko sa iyo (You better be sure because if you’re not, I will shoot you. That is my trade off with you). I will resign from the mayorship anytime. I don’t have any illusions dyan sa mayor mayor na yan. I can always run again and win. I can sacrifice a few years. I can lose my child. Dalawa yang anak ko (na lalaki). May mga apo na ako na lalaki [I have two sons. I already have grandsons] I can lose (my son).”
“My son is there, you can ask him to go for a drug test .. but I will not insult my son by asking him publicly so kung sino yung interesado, kausapin ninyo anak ko (whoever is interested, talk to my son). Just produce a true, credible witness against my son and I will resign. And I will even shoot him in front of you,” Duterte added.
Paolo is now on his second term as Vice Mayor of Davao City. His name was recently implicated in the congressional hearings on the P6.4 billion shipment of illegal drugs from China that managed to pass through the green lane because of alleged protectors whom customs fixer Mark Taguba referred to as the “Davao Group.”
Among the names Taguba implicated in the”Davao Group,” are a certain Tita Nani, Jack, Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera, Jr., the President’s son, Paolo and his son-in-law lawyer Manases Carpio, husband of Mayor Sara Duterte.
Paolo, Carpio and Abellera have all denied the allegations.
Taguba, however, through his lawyer, issued a statement Friday, clearing Paolo and Carpio “from any involvement in the shipment of illegal drugs into the country, and any anomalies in the Bureau of Customs” and also apologized to them “and to the first family for the proliferation of fake news arising out of my testimony at the Senate yesterday.”
“I wish to categorically make it clear that I had never testified, nor will I ever testify that Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and/or Atty. Manse Carpio were involved in the shipment of illegal drugs into the country. Neither have I testified, nor will I ever testify that the aforementioned individuals were involved in the ‘Tara System’ that was in place at the Bureau of Customs,” he said.
He said the alleged involvement of Paolo and Carpio was “hearsay in nature.”
In at least four speaking engagements between August 23 and September 1, Duterte repeatedly spoke about the allegations against his son, Paolo. Two of the four speeches opened with Paolo’s alleged involvement in corruption and illegal drugs and his vow to resign as President if, indeed, his son was involved — at the mass oath-taking of newly-appointed officials on August 29 in Malacanang and at the 11th anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command on September 1.
At the inauguration of the Solar Philippines factory in Sto. Tomas, Batangas on August 23, Duterte narrated how Paolo eloped at the age of 18 with Lovelie Sangcola whose mother is a Maranaw and his father a Tausug. He said his son was “enterprising,” that the business of his wife’s family was into jars and ukay-ukay (used clothes).
“My son eloped with my daughter-in-law when he was only 18… So he was lost to us. Kaya makikita mo ‘yan sa pantalan. Eh kung magtanong lang kayo nasa pantalan, palaging nasa pantalan ‘yan, tumutulong sa in-laws niya. Eh walang hanapbuhay eh. (That’s why you’d see him at the port. If you ask why he is always in the port, that’s because he is helping his in-laws. He didn’t have a job). And he has to earn his keep and he had to work for the family.”
“Pero kung ‘yung mga ‘yung mga jars, ukay- ukay, ‘yung pinapalusot ng in-laws niya (But if the jars and ukay-ukay slipped past Customs), if that is smuggling, then give me an accounting and I will resign. Walang problema ‘yan sa akin (That’s not a problem with me).
“This is a nationwide broadcast so I might as well tell you. I am not defending my son. Prove it, (prove) it is true, and I will resign,” the President said, adding that if anyone in his family is involved in corruption, “bababa ako pagka-Presidente (I will step down as President). No excuses, no apologies. Pero ‘yun totoo lang. Now, all they have to do is to prove kasi ‘yung dating ‘yung — it’s a rehash actually of — during the last elections.”
At the mass oath-taking of newly-appointed officials in Malacanang on August 29, Duterte opened his speech by saying that Lovelie is “not a Duterte” but a Sumera and that he had not seen her in the last ten years.
Duterte was reacting to newspaper reports that his “daughter-in-law” was seen in the Bureau of Customs.
“I do not have a daughter by the name of Lovelie Duterte. Ang daughter-in-law ko is, si January,” Duterte said. Paolo and Lovelie divorced in 2006 undre a Shariah court decision. They have both remarried.
The President reiterated that if any of his children — Mayor Sara, Vice Mayor Paolo and Sebastian — “kung ‘yan ang pumasok doon sa — may hiningi na illegal or graft and corruption, I told you before, I am ready to step down as President.”
At the oathtaking of star-rank officials of the Philippine National Police on August 30 in Malacanang, the President said Carpio was lawyering for Mighty King corporation which was eyeing a compromise agreement with the government on and is not involved in shabu shipment and “lawyering is never and would never be a wrong.”
At the 11th anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command on September 1, the President again opened his speech by answering allegations against his son Paolo and Carpio.
He reiterated Carpio was simply doing his job as a lawyer, that he had repeatedly said that he would resign if anyone would show him proof about his son’s alleged illegal acts.
“Sinabi ko bigyan ninyo na ako ng affidavit na may taong nagbigay, siya mismo, kung may camera, may audio, mas maganda at tinanggap niya at narinig ko, ‘Ito bayad sa ano'” (Just give me an affidavit that somebody gave my son, if there is a camera, audio would be better so he could listen to the transaction) and if Paolo accepted, he would resign as President. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)