Tupas, Dargani, Lao and the Dutertes

How long has Jefry Tupas been associated with Revsan Ethelbert Elizalde, that one who acts as Sara Duterte’s gatekeeper and primary apologist would motor all the way to Mabini, Davao de Oro, a good 94 kilometers from Davao city, for Elizalde’s drug-cocktailed birthday festivity?

If Elizalde was the object of the buy-bust raid those operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency conducted on November 6, it is reasonable to assume that such operatives had sleuthed him for a good period of time. In which case, PDEA would have known just how close a favored functionary of Sara Duterte’s office is to a drug operator like Elizalde.

In booting out Tupas, however, Sara Duterte’s statement never indicated she was subjecting Tupas to an investigation. If Tupas truly had high value drug connections, one as reputedly close to the mayor but was exempted from a probe raises eyebrows. The Duterte thumb mark of impunity is there.

The pleading Tupas made to the raid operatives – “I am a staff of Sara Duterte” –- contrasts quite well to Kian delos Santos’s last words before police murdered him in cold blood: “I have an exam tomorrow.” No rocket science is needed there to compare the blunt paradox.

As importantly, it adds fodder to the popular belief that Davao city is “the nexus of the illegal drug trade.” PDEA has announced belatedly, after howls of protest, that Tupas will now be subjected to an investigation, and that PDEA agents who let the lying Tupas escape AFTER the raid will be subjects of an internal investigation. But that did not come from Sara Duterte, did it?

Speaking of escape, now come Mohit and Twinkle Dargani. Flight in criminal law is the evading of the course of justice. A detention order had been issued by the Senate, which cited them in contempt. The Darganis did not escape the country from Tawitawi, Sulu, or the southern tip of Palawan. What were they doing in Davao city? There are seventy airports in the whole Philippines. Why choose the Davao city airport? They had been in hiding after Mohit slipped through clandestinely from the Senate hearings. Did they receive protection in Davao city? If so, from whom? Who owned the private jet they had contracted to fly them to Kuala Lumpur?

Alleged drug lord Michael Yang and former Budget undersecretary Christopher Lao, a lackey of presidential candidate Bong Go, are also said to be hiding in safe-haven Davao city. Last Saturday, a senate team serving Lao’s warrant of arrest found his posh Davao city home empty. In the link is a photo of the house in Le Jardin de Villa Abrilles. See for yourself if that is a house commensurate to the salary of an undersecretary.

Blessed people like Jefry Tupas, Mohit and Twinkle Dargani, and Christopher Lao remind us of Rodrigo Duterte, Sara Duterte, Bong Go and what electoral judgment they deserve from the Filipino people in the coming national elections.

There is a connection. Rodrigo Duterte running for the Senate raises cynicism. In his three years as congressman, he had authored only one law – declaring a holiday for Davao city. Sara had sustained during her term as mayor from 2010 to 2013 the enormous largesse of intelligence funds not subject to audit for the extrajudicial killing operations of the Davao Death Squad using ghost employees, testified Arturo Lascañas.

What the Dutertes need is accountability for the culture of impunity and corruption they have imposed on their constituencies. With such flagrant records, only a foolish people would elect them to high offices.

Davao city is not the back door. It is the front door to harboring drug operators and criminals.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.

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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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