President Rodrigo Duterte revealed one tactic he pulled off as a prosecutor going after criminals.
“We planted the evidence. We arrested persons but we released them, [then] telling him that it was this person who squealed on him. And then when he goes out for the killing, then we said that it was this fellow who really did it, who did you in,” Duterte said, as quoted by Rappler, when he talked to the media in an early morning press conference on August 21.
“We first planted the intrigues so that we would know… from where they came from,” the President said.
According to Duterte, this is one of the things he learned from his experience as a prosecutor for 10 years before becoming Davao City mayor.
In the same press conference, he also talked about how the wrapping people up in plastic or packing tape after killing them is not the work of the police, hence denying the law enforcers’ involvement in extrajudicial killings.
“We say it’s not the work of police to be wrapping people with plastic and [putting] him in the bag. That is not a job of the police, I just told [them] that one bullet will do. Why do you have to wrap it? I said [don’t] waste your time,” Duterte said.
Based on the Senate hearing on August 18, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa, there are over 1,000 cases of drug-related killings recorded since the Duterte administration started its war against drugs.
The Inquirer noted that Duterte’s slip on admitting about planting evidence might be a mistake because during the early morning conference, he also mistakenly called Senator Leila de Lima as the chair of the Commission on Appointments (when she used to be the chair of the Commission on Human Rights, who made him the “favorite whipping boy” when it comes to allegations of human rights violations).
Isn’t planting evidence a crime?
In his article on ABS-CBN’s Opinion blog, Tomas “Buddy” Gomez III noted how planting evidence is a crime, as described by the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.
According to Gomez, this point did not get as much of the attention as Duterte’s threat to take the Philippines out of the United Nations (UN). He added he finds Duterte’s “nonchalant admission” of planting evidence “disturbing.”
“That moment is vividly captured on video! That audio-video snippet provides a peek into Duterte’s soul and inner consciousness. An apparently sordid past from which he derives pride of feat and a source of misguided overconfidence. Perhaps, he may even be heralding his capacity to be able to do it again! Planting evidence, that is. Was he channeling a scare message?” Gomez noted of Duterte’s admission caught on the reporters’ cameras.
Gomez also recalled how Duterte threatened to declare martial law after Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno sent him a letter regarding the inclusion of several judges in Duterte’s narco-list.
He noted that while some of Duterte’s men and even a few senators said not to take some of the things that the President said seriously, the Filipinos should do the opposite, seeing as how his duty should require him to act responsibly.
“Contrary to what a couple of senators say, we must always take the President seriously. I certainly do. He is the President. Our President. And as such, is expected to be a most responsible individual in the country. Now, Answer me this, has he been a responsible individual?” he said.
Amid Duterte’s ongoing tirade against de Lima, Gomez said that Duterte might have let slip a “damning circumstance,” although he said that there is also the possibility that this could merely be a slip of the tongue.
But de Lima said in his press conference on August 20 that some people have been trying to lure some drug-related convicts in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to testify against her, Gomez noted.
He added whether Duterte has finally stopped his bad practice as a prosecutor or carried it over now that he is the president.
“And the question that now begs to be asked, please? Is Assistant City Fiscal Rodrigo R. Duterte done with his evidence planting days now that he is President Duterte? Or are old habits compellingly irresistible and just too difficult to kick?” he asked.
Gomez concluded his article by praying for an epiphany to dawn upon Duterte for the sake of the Philippines.
“The sincerity of my prayers is anchored upon the human reality that PDuts and his Presidency cannot remain so adamantly self-centered, stupidly obstinate, unchanging in his ways – words, deeds, conduct and manners, insensitively cocky and still persist unperturbed by the now discernible neaping tide, little white cap by little white cap, that is entrenching the perception that the President is somewhat psychotic,” he said.
Gomez served as the press secretary of former President Corazon Aquino and writes a column for ABS-CBNnews.com.