De Lima: Is Duterte No. 1 drug lord protector, coddler?

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s admission that it was he who asked for the reinstatement of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 Chief Marvin Marcos raises “more questions than answers”, Senator Leila de Lima said.

In a statement released Saturday, December 3, De Lima said she was not surprised about Duterte owning up to the order. "Just as I thought," she said.

De Lima also said Duterte had “no choice" but to own up to the order, otherwise it would have been Bong Go, "his closest aide, trusted confidant, and all around go-to guy" who would have been "the fall guy in this incident.”

The lady senator earlier revealed that a source told her it was Go, now special assistant to the President, who made the call to reinstate the sacked police official who led the operation that led to the death of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr inside his cell.

She said there is something fishy about Duterte’s reason for ordering Marcos back in the service. The incident itself, she said, should be the subject of a Senate inquiry.

“I don't believe for a single moment Duterte's cited reason for the reinstatement, that the President himself was hatching a cloak and dagger scheme to further entrap Marcos or his partners in the illegal drug trade,” said De Lima.

“I'm sure there's a deeper and, possibly, a more sinister reason for the President's action. Otherwise, why would Gen. Bato [Ronald dela Rosa] go through this charade of pointing to a 'kumpadre' instead of just admitting from the start that the President himself ordered the reinstatement?” she stressed.

She also cited the incident where Peter Lim, the alleged drug lord who is supposedly Duterte’s “kumpadre” (friend) was allowed to leave the country.

“We must start asking ourselves this question: whether or not the President, rather than De Lima, is actually the number one drug lord protector and coddler in the country,” she said.

Who ordered what?

In an interview on ANC’s Headstart on November 29, the Philippine National Police chief said someone higher up, apparently pertaining to Malacañang, called him and ordered him to reinstate Marcos.

He later changed the description of the supposed higher-up and said it was his “kumpare”. (READ: Dela Rosa to De Lima: Name your source and I'll reveal 'kumpare'

The President declared on Friday, December 2, that it was he who asked Go to call Dela Rosa to reinstate Marcos because he was keeping track of their moves as part of his probe into the suspected illegal activities of the police official and Eastern Visayas Police Chief Superintendent Asher Dolina. (READ: Duterte: I ordered Dela Rosa to reinstate CIDG 8 chief

Also on Friday, Duterte cleared Dolina and said he was clean. 

Marcos was brought back to his post weeks before the incident that killed Espinosa. Police served him a search warrant while in custody, but authorities claimed Espinosa fought back and was shot dead. (READ: Albuera Mayor Espinosa killed in jail operation

In a recent Senate investigation on the death of Mayor Espinosa, his son and accused drug lord Kerwin Espinosa said Marcos asked money from his father in exchange for protection. Marcos has since denied the allegation. –

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.