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Editorial

Skewed zeal, priorities

/ 09:08 AM May 02, 2019

Who is Eduardo Acierto, and why is he suddenly the most wanted man under the Duterte administration?

A bounty of P10 million has been offered by Malacañang for the capture of the police officer, one of several individuals accused of involvement in the controversial case of “shabu” that slipped through Customs via magnetic lifters.

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Aside from Acierto, there are seven other people under indictment: former customs intelligence officer Jimmy Guban and former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency deputy director for administration Ismael Fajardo; importers Chan Yee Wah, alias KC Chan, and Zhou Quan, alias Zhang Quan; consignees Vedasto Cabral Baraquel Jr. and Maria Lagrimas Catipan of Vecaba Trading; and Emily Luquingan.

But only Acierto has earned the dubious distinction of an astronomical sum of money placed on his head, indicating the level of urgency and top priority the police have placed on his capture.

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Contrast that unprecedented bounty, for instance, with the reward that was offered for alleged drug lord Peter Lim: a measly P500,000. Lim, the subject of an arrest warrant since 2017, has yet to be found.

In 2017, President Duterte also offered P3 million for the capture of cops involved in illegal drugs, and P2 million for cops involved in the Parojinog family raid-slay in Ozamiz City. And for the capture of Abu Sayyaf members behind a foiled terror attack in Bohol, the President promised P1 million each.

So what did Acierto do to deserve this much concentration of resources and firepower on the part of Malacañang and law-enforcement authorities?

It’s less likely his alleged participation in the drug smuggling case, and more his decision to go public with an explosive accusation: that he had submitted an intelligence report to top officials of the Duterte administration about the drug links of former presidential adviser for economic affairs Michael Yang, but which the President’s lieutenants uniformly ignored.

Mr. Duterte himself dismissed the claim, citing Yang’s friendship with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua as proof of the Chinese businessman’s innocence.

The President then turned on the tables on Acierto, publicly upbraiding him for corruption and treason for allegedly selling police firearms to communist rebels.

In one speech, the President asked ominously: “Tanong ko ‘yung military and police, bakit buhay pa ‘yung put—inang ‘yan?  (Let me ask the military and police, why is this son of a bitch still alive?)”

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Observers and the general public who saw shades of King Henry II’s “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!?” in that presidential harangue can’t be blamed for wondering why the President seemed to be all but suggesting shooting the messenger, instead of looking into the veracity of the message.

Why the unmistakable threat to a whistleblower who could perhaps, at the very least, shed light on how drug cartels might have infiltrated the circles of power? Wouldn’t that frightening possibility represent such an existential, nonnegotiable threat to the country’s well-being that it should trigger an unforgiving, top-to-bottom investigation — if the administration were serious enough about the so-called war on drugs it has waged with much blood and rancor these past years?

But it appears no such investigation is happening. Instead, what has become a top police priority is the grand manhunt for Acierto — rather than, say, for Lim and other big-time drug lords, or the perpetrators of the hundreds of unsolved drive-by shootings and extrajudicial killings still in the police files.

In fact, as if the Philippine National Police didn’t have enough on its hands, it declared it was also setting its sights on other targets: the supposed “enablers” and links of the mysterious “Bikoy” who, in a series of videos, has accused the President’s own family of drug ties, and the sundry journalists and human rights lawyers named in the “Oust Duterte” matrix recently released by the Palace.

But taking the cake is PNP chief Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde’s pronouncement that the police would probe as well the China telecom giant Huawei for possible spying, even as the company was reportedly the biggest sponsor in the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group’s sixth National Anti-Cybercrime Summit held in March.

As wags would say about the PNP’s skewed sense of zeal and priorities: “Daming time!” But why time for running after people who have crossed the President like Acierto and media workers just doing their job, and not the criminals and assassins roaming the land with impunity? That’s the P10-million question.

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TAGS: Eduardo Acierto, Inquirer editorial, Rodrigo Duterte, shabu shipment, war on drugs
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