Pres. Rodrigo Duterte vowed to hit the 30,000 mark in the rising number of drug personalities killed as he will start the new phase of his relentless war against drugs.
He disclosed this to former Bohol Gov. Victor de la Serna during a private dinner in MalacaÃ±angÂ MondayÂ night.
Four days later, Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of a Maguindanao town was the first to be killed as the new phase of the President’s head-on war against drugs started targeting high profile personalities.
De la Serna, who was the professor of Pres. Duterte in the College of Law of San Beda College way back in 1966 was received in Malacanang with a warm and personal welcome duringÂ a round table private dinner with Mr. Duterte who saw to it that their meeting will be the last for the day so he can have the luxury of time to talk with his former law professor. The dinner meeting started 7pm and lasted shortly after 9pm.
During an interview with theÂ Chronicle, de la Serna said he told the President not to relax in his campaign against drugs as there are still plenty of people involved in the drug menace.
The President replied, “If they think that I am done. They are wrong.”
“I will never stopÂ running after these drug personalities even if I will reach the 30,000 mark,” Mr. Duterte told the former Bohol official while saying that the war on drugs will be intensified when he comes home from Japan.
True to his word, the killing of the Maguindanao mayor came the day after his arrival from Japan.
Lawyer de la Serna said he could feel the seriousness of the President in his advocacy to bring down the drug trade in the country.
In fact, the thick book containing names of the drug personalities in the country, including Bohol, was shown by the President to de la Serna during their two-hour huddle in MalacaÃ±ang.
“I am not at liberty to reveal the names of those in the list as it was shown to me in great confidence that everything be sealed in confidentiality,” de la Serna told theÂ Chronicle.
The names included police officials, politicians and businessmen, according to de la Serna.
He said that Vice Gov. Dionisio Balite who was seated on the other side of the President was not able to see the listings as Mr. Duterte was opening the pages towards his left where he was seated.
However, reports said top PNP officials including a previous Bohol provincial director and his top men were included in the list as well as top government officials down to the barangay level and some businessmen. De la Serna, who has been accusing Gov. Edgar Chatto of alleged involvement in drugs said in his radio program yesterday he noticedÂ one with the first name of “Edgardo.”
The disclosure of de la Serna ignited public curiosity even as Chatto was recently included among the governors who were cited by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for their successful campaign against drugs in their respective provinces.
De la Serna whose respect for a former student remains- was extended such a warm reception by Pres. Duterte- which was never expected by the former Bohol OIC governor. They hugged each other as the Bohol group was escorted inside a function room at the main building of MalacaÃ±ang.
InÂ fact, the President asked de la Serna what position he wants in the judiciary being a bar topnotcher and a former delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention with the late Boholano Pres. Carlos P. Garcia as the CONCON president.
“At 76, I prefer to stay relax inÂ Bohol rather than work and stay in Manila,”Â de la Serna told the President as he politely declined the offer.
However, lawyer Salvador Diputado, who joined the group lobbied for a government position and will soon get his appointment as the new regional director of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based in Cebu City.Â The lawyer journalist was quoted as saying that he expects to assume next month.
The round table private dinner hosted by Pres. Duterte was also attended by Atty. Victor de la Serna, Jr. former Songculan Dauis barangay captain Allan Mangmang, businessman Donald Sevilla and Anthony de la Serna.
NOT COMING TO BOHOLÂ
Conflicting reports surfaced as to whether Pres. Duterte is coming to Bohol or not.
The day after the Palace dinner meeting, reports surfaced that the President will be flying to Bohol on his next available time amid his hectic schedule.
Diputado in a radio interview said Vice Gov. Balite will be doubly busy starting this week insinuating a massive preparation for a big event. The vice governor personally invited the President for his first presidential visit to the province and assured to do the preparations.
However, de la Serna told theÂ ChronicleÂ that the President is not keen on visiting the province soon.
The difference in political climate could be the reason why the President is not comfortable to be met by local officials who campaigned for then Sec. Mar Roxas being loyal party mates under the Liberal Party.
“I can only remember of Mr. Duterte as a rugged guy as my student at San Beda College,” recalled lawyer de la Serna who came fresh as a mentor of the college of law at the top Manila law school.
De la SernaÂ just topped the bar examinations when he joined the San Beda law faculty on June 1966.
Duterte was one of the 40 class members of the law freshmen, he recalled.
He noticed the Davao born law student to be one of those who would Â gather friends after classes at the school campus. However, he did not notice much Â of Duterte then who belonged to the same class as DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre.