The Ser Davos of Davao

Matobato added that Paolo is friends with known Chinese drug lords, including the leader of a carnapping syndicate, as he hangs out with them in exclusive night clubs in Davao City.

Recently, in the course of the recent P6.4-billion shabu smuggling controversy, photos of Paolo with a certain Kenneth Dong and Charlie Tan were circulated in social media. The former has already been implicated in the P6.4-billion shabu smuggling and recently testified at the Senate. Charlie Tan, for his part, is a Taiwanese national who owns a KTV bar in Ecoland, Davao City.

Matobato also claimed that a leader of a carnapping syndicate was saved from assassination by the DDS because he was protected by Paolo.

Drugs in Paolo’s furniture

According to Lascañas in his testimony before the Senate, Paolo once sought his assistance in a supposed entrapment operation involving a shipment of smuggled drugs.

His story went that Paolo’s friend, the Taiwanese Charlie Tan, requested that packages containing drugs be concealed in a container van of furniture shipped from China, with Paolo as the consignee. The furniture and other personal effects were supposedly bought by Paolo from China in time for the inauguration of his new house. Charlie Tan was just using the container van of furniture to hitch his shipment of drugs.

The container van was supposed to be delivered to the barangay hall of Catalunan Grande, Davao City, where Paolo was the Barangay Captain. Before Lascañas apprehended the container van containing Paolo’s furniture and Tan’s suspected shipment of drugs, Paolo called him and asked Lascañas to just let him take care of the container van. Paolo said “pa-arbor na lang.” And that was the last Lascañas heard of Charlie Tan’s shipment of drugs concealed in Paolo’s furniture.

Malacañang’s challenge

Amidst the resurfacing of his son’s name in drug smuggling, President Duterte challenged the public to show him the affidavit implicating his son in the smuggling of the P6.4-billion of shabu, and he will resign.

Malacañang spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that Paolo is being tried by publicity, and that the photographs showing him in drinking sprees and other convivial occasions with Charlie Tan and Kenneth Dong don’t prove anything.

Abella challenged the public to file charges against Paolo if the accusations are true.

What Duterte and Abella are not saying is that there is already an affidavit – in fact, two affidavits and recorded testimonies in Senate investigations – and at least one criminal complaint already filed with the Ombudsman against Paolo. These affidavits and testimonies are those of Edgar Matobato and Arturo Lascañas, attesting under oath that Paolo Duterte is the smuggling lord of Davao City, specializing in the smuggling of SUVs, rice, oil, and used clothing, and paying off Customs officials in the amount of P3 million per shipment.

Telltale signs of his involvement in drug trafficking are contained in Lascañas’ testimony about drugs suspected to be hidden in his shipment of furniture from China.

Ombudsman complaint

On December 2016, Matobato already submitted his affidavit to the Ombudsman in support of his criminal complaint for murder, kidnapping, torture, and crimes against humanity against President Duterte, Paolo, PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, and 25 other members of the Davao Death Squad. The affidavit includes Matobato’s allegations of Paolo’s smuggling activities in Davao City.

As such, in so far as accusations of Paolo’s involvement in smuggling are concerned, there is already a case filed before the Ombudsman. It is now only a matter of further fact-finding investigation left for the Ombudsman to conduct.

Hopefully, before the one-year anniversary of the filing of Matobato’s criminal complaint, and before the retirement of Ombudsman Carpio-Morales early next year, a preliminary investigation is conducted and criminal charges are filed against Paolo before the Sandiganbayan.

'Untouchables'

Of course, it may take a long time before justice catches up with the so-called smuggling lord of Davao City.

Maybe not during the reign of his father, whose first promise was to kill his own son if he was proven to be involved in drugs, a promise which was later on downgraded to him resigning as President.

For the son of the Davao Mayor and now Philippine President who has distinguished himself all over the world with his swift brand of street justice, there appears to be no end in sight for the invocation of due process and presumption of innocence in favor of Paolo Duterte.

All of a sudden, innocence in the absence of proof and no punishment without a fair trial are again the norms, as the extrajudicial killing of 12,000 (and counting) drug suspects who never saw the inside of a courtroom is conveniently forgotten.

There are now two kinds of justice in the Philippines. One for the ordinary scum of the earth, and then another for the untouchable kind of scum. For these people, we would be lucky to even witness the Westeros king’s justice of lopping off the smuggler lord’s fingers.

More often than not, criminals in government eventually find a way to consolidate power in an absolute manner. And when they do, they become what we call "Untouchables." When that happens, neither law nor justice can touch them, not even the Magdalo warriors of the Bureau of Customs. – Rappler.com

Senator Leila de Lima, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame since her arrest on drug-related charges on February 24, 2017. She is a former justice secretary and chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights.