President Duterte’s Son Cleared of Drug Trafficking, as Extrajudicial Killings Continue


As the extrajudicial killing of people for alleged drug offences continues in the Philippines, the president’s son has been cleared of trafficking – following a formal investigation.

Paolo Duterte, son of leader Rodrigo Duterte, had been accused of involvement in the attempted importation of 602kg of methamphetamine (often referred to as “shabu”) into the Philippines from China in 2017. The haul, valued by the state at $125million, was found in a shipment of printing cylinders. The president’s son-in-law was also alleged to be involved in the plot, and has also been cleared of involvement.

On May 2, the Office of the Ombudsman stated that “the complaints against former Davao City Vice-Mayor Paolo Duterte […] were dismissed for lack of basis”.

According to the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigators, “[customs agents] discovered and seized the shabu but the manner through which the discovery and seizure were made leaves much to be desired. Evidence suggests that numerous laws and administrative issuances pertaining to the proper search, seizure, handling and controlled delivery of drugs were violated by the public officers”.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who manages the Office of the Ombudsman, “took no part in the fact-finding investigation”, the statement reads. This is notable, as Carpio-Morales and President Duterte have publicly clashed several times over the latter’s violent drug war, and over the former’s determination to investigate the President’s family. The President has previously vowed to impeach Carpio-Morales for being part of a “conspiracy” against him.

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