Philippines’ Duterte publicly names 46 officials under drug investigation

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has publicly named 46 government officials, including three congressmen, he said are involved in illegal drugs, and added that criminal investigations against them are underway. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
Updated 15 March 2019

Philippines’ Duterte publicly names 46 officials under drug investigation

  • Many of the officials, including 33 mayors, eight vice mayors and three members of the House of Representatives, are running in midterm elections in May
  • Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs has left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead

MANILA, Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday publicly named 46 government officials, including three congressmen, he said are involved in illegal drugs, and added that criminal investigations against them are underway.
Although critics have warned him against making such public announcements without solid evidence, Duterte said in a peace and order meeting shown on nationwide TV that he trusted the government agencies that provided the information.
“My decision to unmask these drug personalities was anchored on my trust in the government agencies who had vetted and validated the narco list,” Duterte said. He said the Department of Interior and Local Government has filed administrative complaints against the politicians.
The government’s Anti-Money Laundering Council and a presidential anti-corruption commission are both investigating the officials to build criminal cases against them, Duterte said. Many of the officials, including 33 mayors, eight vice mayors and three members of the House of Representatives, are running in midterm elections in May.
Duterte said he did not aim to undermine the politicians ahead of the May 13 elections but decided to identify them after their involvement in the drug trade was validated by authorities.
The officials named by Duterte did not immediately respond. Duterte said other officials were also involved but that he had decided not to name them until their complicity is ascertained.
“Those which have already been filed have somewhat been validated,” he said.
Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs has left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead and has alarmed Western governments and human rights groups.
The drug killings have sparked two complaints of mass murder to the International Criminal Court. A prosecutor there is looking into the complaints and is expected to announce soon whether to elevate the inquiry into an investigation.
Duterte took steps last year to withdraw the Philippines from the international court, an action that would take effect on March 17. He has often lashed out at the court and the prosecutor examining the allegations against him, saying the court will never acquire jurisdiction over him and threatening the prosecutor with arrest if she travels to the Philippines.

 


Jailed UK-Iranian Zaghari-Ratcliffe is ‘chess piece’: husband

Updated 31 min 14 sec ago

Jailed UK-Iranian Zaghari-Ratcliffe is ‘chess piece’: husband

  • Ratcliffe said there was a 'gap' between him and the government over its tactics
  • Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016

LONDON: The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran, on Thursday said his wife was being used as a “chess piece,” following talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Speaking from Downing Street after his meeting, Richard Ratcliffe said there was a “gap” between him and the government over its tactics.
“I think there remains that gap between my sense that the government needs to be tougher with Iran, alongside improving relations generally, and the Foreign Office instinct to not have things escalate,” he told reporters.
“I don’t think I have come away thinking Nazanin is coming out tomorrow or even next week.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 after visiting relatives in Iran with her young daughter.
She worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation — the media organization’s philanthropic arm — at the time.
Her family say Johnson jeopardized her case by mischaracterizing her job at the time.
Iranian authorities convicted her of sedition — a charge Zaghari-Ratcliffe has always contested — and she is serving a five-year jail term.
Her case has unfolded amid escalating tensions between Tehran and the West, particularly the United States and Britain.
But Ratcliffe believes it is particularly linked to London’s failure to return £400 million ($500 million, 450 million euros) owed to Tehran for a 1970s tank deal.
Ratcliffe said Thursday that his wife was “being held hostage” and used as a “chess piece.”
“That wasn’t disputed in there,” he said. “The UK obviously is wary of that tightrope it is walking between the US and Europe in Iran relations.
“I was saying ‘I think this is different’. This is a global norm, that actually we all uphold universal values where hostage-taking shouldn’t be happening.”
Ratcliffe had previously blamed Johnson for making his wife’s case worse by mistakenly stating, when he was foreign minister, that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been training journalists while visiting Iran.
The pair “didn’t talk about the past” on Thursday, he said.
Johnson “was very clear that he was committed in what he was doing... and that if there was anything they could do almost within reason, that they were ready to do it,” Ratcliffe added.
“I don’t doubt his personal commitment to Nazanin.”