Philippine police said Friday that they had arrested the son of President Rodrigo Duterte’s corrections chief along with three others during a counter-narcotics raid.
Nicanor Faeldon Jr. and the others were taken by a local narcotics enforcement unit following a dawn raid at a suspected drug trafficker’s home in eastern Naga city, according to a police report.
Faeldon is the alleged boyfriend of the daughter of Russel Lanuso, a drug kingpin who was among those arrested, the report said.
Faeldon is the eldest son and namesake of Nicanor Faeldon, a close Duterte ally who in 2003 was among a cabal of junior military officers who led a failed rebellion against the government in Manila.
In a statement immediately after Friday’s raid, the elder Faeldon said he was made aware that his eldest son “was present in a house where a search warrant for illegal drugs was being served.”
“I am totally clueless on that incident, as neither my son nor the police authorities have contacted me,” he said, adding that he commended the local authorities for the raid. “I will not lift a finger to influence their on-going investigation and arrest SOP (standard operation procedure). Let the axe fall where it may.”
Faeldon said his son had been on his own “for years,” and he challenged the local police and press to immediately report any attempts from his camp to influence the investigation.
“In any event, if the police investigation will show that my son, Nicanor Jr., is indeed a drug pusher, and therefore a menace to society, then there will be no need to prosecute or jail him,” Faeldon said. “I will personally obliterate him from the face of the earth.”
Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s spokesman, said Faeldon had made a “principled stand, and he should be commended for that.”
While stressing that the investigation was ongoing, Panelo said the police were on top of the situation and would file appropriate charges as they saw fit.
“We don’t know yet what exactly happened,” he said.
President Duterte has repeatedly said that he considered Faeldon one of his loyal cabinet officials. But the president found himself in a bind earlier this year, after a huge shipment of methamphetamine worth about 6.2 billion pesos (125 million dollars) passed through the customs bureau when Faeldon headed that agency.
Duterte never fired him, and the president has been quiet about that shipment. He moved Faeldon to the Department of National Defense before giving him the portfolio at the Bureau of Corrections, which was vacated by his former police chief and top enforcer of the drug war.
Since the president took office in mid-2016, police have allegedly gunned down thousands of suspected pushers and users during his administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs. The influential Catholic Church and human rights group have said that the drug war only focused on small-fry offenders, and that big-time drug traffickers have been allowed to operate above the law.