From exchanging pleasantries in their past meeting in Malacañang last year, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and former president Rodrigo R. Duterte are now engaged in swapping drug-use allegations.
In an interview with reporters prior to his flight for his State Visit in Vietnam on Monday, Marcos attributed the recent rant made by Duterte against him to the former president’s alleged fentanyl use.
“Fentanyl is the strongest pain killer that you can buy. It is highly addictive and it has very serious side effects, and PRRD [Duterte]has been taking the drug for a very long time now. When was the last time he told us that he was taking Fentanyl? About five, six years ago, something like that,” Marcos said.
“After five, six years, it has to affect him. That is why I think that is happening to him. So, you know, I hope his doctors take better care of him than this—and not neglect these problems,” he reminded.
In 2017, Duterte publicly disclosed he was taking Fentanyl after a motorcycle accident. However, he stressed then he was “not addicted” to the pain reliever.
Last Sunday, Duterte alleged the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) showed him a “list,” which supposedly included the name of Marcos, while he was still a mayor of Davao City.
He said he decided not to release the information since he considers Marcos as a “friend or an acquaintance.”
But PDEA denied Duterte’s claims and stressed Marcos was never included in its National Drug Information System (NDIS), its watch list for persons linked to illegal drug use.
“From its inception in 2002 and up to the present, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. was never in our NDIS,” PDEA said in a statement.
When asked by a reporter if he can categorically deny any involvement in drugs, Marcos declined to make a comment, saying he does not want to dignify such a question.
Duterte alleged President Marcos was on the government narcotics list, as he threw a barrage of accusation against the administration, including the alleged “machinations” by the President’s wife to “perpetuate” the Marcoses in power.
Duterte recalled PDEA showed him a list of people on the anti-illegal drugs watch list while he was still mayor here, “and your [President Marcos] name was on it.”
Duterte disclosed this at a public rally at the Rizal Park here in Davao City, where supporters and political allies from across the country came.
He said he should not have disclosed this publicly but he told the Marcos couple, “This is the situation that I have avoided, because by then, I would be forced to talk against people in government.”
“Mr. President,” he said, “baka susunod ka sa dinaanan ng tatay mo [maybe you will follow the fate of your father]. That is when I am afraid because I don’t want that to happen to you.”
Duterte talked at length about the administration’s push to amend the Constitution, accusing the Marcoses and their allies of seeking to perpetuate themselves in power. He said the nation would be the ultimate victim.
He alleged the President’s wife, Lisa Araneta-Marcos, and Speaker Martin Romualdez are allegedly behind the people’s initiative drive, the first step to amend the Constitution.
Duterte added the alleged plan of the President’s wife and his cousin, Speaker Romualdez, was to install the President’s son, Sandro Marcos, who is also a congressional representative; or for Romualdez himself to proclaim himself prime minister and relegate President Marcos to a ceremonial function.
“That is their plan,” Duterte alleged. “There’s nothing wrong with the Constitution right now, the environment in the Philippines is positive. There’s no problem. Our lives are okay, then suddenly there is this people’s initiative,” he added.
Since being elected in 2022, Marcos first met with Duterte in Malacañang last August, where they discussed the latter’s talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
Duterte requested another audience with Marcos to discuss the suspension of the operation of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) first issued a 30-day suspension order to SMNI last December in line with a resolution of the House of Representatives alleging SMNI violated certain provisions of its franchise.
SMNI, however, failed to strictly comply with the suspension order, which prompted the NTC to issue a cease and desist order against its radio and television operations on January 18, 2024.
As of this writing, Malacañang has yet to announce if the second meeting between Marcos and Duterte pushed through.
The remarks made by Duterte appear to have no impact on the current position of her eldest daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, in the Marcos Cabinet, where she serves as Secretary of the Department of Education.
Sara was also present at the Villamor Airbase for Marco’s pre-departure speech before he left for his State Visit in Vietnam from January 29 to 31, 2024.
Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy V. Garafil announced the President has also designated Sara as caretaker of the government until his return from Vietnam.
Image credits: pcoo file photo