After weeks of word war between President Duterte and Sen. Leila de Lima, which has been turning personal and ugly, the President has finally released the matrix of operations of the illegal drug trade emanating from the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).
What the matrix shows is the interconnection of personalities that allegedly makes it possible for convicted drug lords to continue the illegal drug trade not only within the walls of the NBP but the whole country. And if the assertions of the President and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald de la Rosa are accurate, the main local source of illegal drugs in the country are the convicted drug lords currently serving their sentence inside the NBP. Thus, breaking the matrix is crucial in the war on drugs.
This is the first time in the country’s history where a high ranking government official, a former Cabinet secretary and currently senator Leila de Lima, has been tagged in a major crime case, the illegal drugs trade at that. The matrix also implicated a former Justice undersecretary, a lawmaker, and a provincial board member.
However, the matrix released by President Duterte is not a smoking gun. It is just that: a matrix. It did not present incontrovertible proof of the involvement of those implicated in the matrix. It appears that the release of the matrix is still part of the shame campaign rather than for the prosecution of those involved.
Actually anybody could come up with such a matrix, although I doubt if it was totally a product of the figment of the imagination of the President, given the seriousness of the accusations. Perhaps only the lawyers of the military have the gall to invent cases in order to harass activists and justify the detention of suspected communists.
It really is a mystery how the illegal drugs trade and the special privileges of convicted drug lords could persist without the knowledge of the Bureau of Corrections and its mother agency the Department of Justice. Sen. De Lima’s claim that she led a raid in the NBP is too weak an argument in her defense. If indeed the convicted drug lords enjoyed free rein and special privileges during her term as Justice secretary, it is either she condoned it or was ignorant of what was happening under her watch. .
However, since President Duterte released the matrix, which appears to be more of a product of intelligence work than a case build up, the burden of producing evidences to back it up lies with the government. Otherwise the release of the matrix would be viewed as a dud.
Being a lawyer, President Duterte knows that the release of the matrix would not be sufficient. Is it because he believes with certainty in the content of the matrix but knows that the evidences are not sufficient that is why he released it in public? It would not be surprising if this is the case. In his determination to curb the illegal drugs trade swiftly he has been known to do shortcuts, bringing him in conflict with rights groups.