Bato: 23 drug mayors will also be named
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - July 10, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - After the five narco generals of the police force, the drug mayors – at least 23 of them – are about to be named by President Duterte.

“The President has the list of these local executives involved in illegal drugs. I can’t reveal their identities, only the President can make public their names,” Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa said.

He said the President may ask the Department of the Interior and Local Government to take action against the local government officials linked to drugs.

Earlier, Duterte publicly accused five active and retired police generals of coddling drug syndicates. They were retired police deputy director general Marcelo Garbo Jr., retired chief superintendent and now Daanbantayan, Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot, Director Joel Pagdilao, Chief Supts. Edgar Tinio and Bernardo Diaz.

The five have denied the accusation. Garbo told The STAR yesterday he is willing to clear his name personally with the President if given the chance.

He claimed Duterte got “wrong and poisoned” information about him. He also promised to cooperate with investigators.

The President also warned big-time drug lords not to come to the country or try to escape from prison or they would be killed.

De la Rosa dared the mayors with alleged drug links to openly fight government forces if they want to.

“It’s sad to know that there are mayors who are involved. I hope these mayors are now armed to the fullest for them to fight us,” De la Rosa said.

He added he has been receiving text messages from these local chief executives, and he advised them to clear their names with the President.

“We will treat them like ordinary criminals because they committed a crime,” he said.

“I don’t care if you’re a mayor or if you get reelected because of your drug money. There will be no special treatment,” the PNP chief stressed.

Elected officials coddling drug lords should be dealt with severely, he said, because they have squandered the trust of the people who put them in office.

Local government officials should serve as role models for their constituents, he pointed out.

Convicted drug lords had reportedly offered a P1-billion bounty for the heads of Duterte and De la Rosa.

After being linked to drug syndicates, the five active and retired police officers may be placed in the Bureau of Immigration’s lookout bulletin order (ILBO).

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said yesterday they would decide tomorrow if the five would be included in the ILBO. The immigration bureau is under the DOJ.

He explained individuals in the ILBO would not be prevented from leaving the country. “We will just monitor (their movements), that is all.”

While he sees no legal impediment to placing the officers in the ILBO, Aguirre said they decided to “just defer the issuance, if ever, on Monday.”

BI spokesperson Tonette Bucasas-Mangrobang said the police officers were already being monitored even if they were not yet in the lookout bulletin.

She said the bureau would implement “strict departure protocols” such as requiring those still in government to produce travel authority from their department.

In the case of Garbo, who is no longer part of the PNP and is now a private citizen, the BI would still “check his ticket just to make certain his actual destination and his date of return to the Philippines.”

She said this “would be just for our information since as of this time, we have not received any other orders from any other police to prevent their departure.”

Open to probe

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Palace is open to any investigation if there is evidence linking it to the spate of killings of suspected drug pushers.

He also asked the people to refrain from speculating on the issue and linking the Palace to the killings.

“If there’s substantive evidence and proven, (then) the Palace, the government is also of course open to any investigation,” Abella said over the government-run dzRB.

Lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno, Free Legal Assistance Group chairman and De La Salle University College of Law founding dean, earlier said Duterte’s war on crime has spawned “a nuclear explosion of violence that is spiraling out of control and creating a nation without judges, without law and without reason.”

He added the President has created “a bandwagon of hate, a mob mentality that not only condones but encourages the taking of lives.”

Abella said that while Duterte has given a directive on combatting illegal drugs and criminality, it’s the results of the order that have to be taken based on facts and not on speculations or reportage.

“It cannot just be based on speculation. It has to be evidence-based also. It has to be proven that there is a violation,” Abella pointed out.

He also did not rule out drug money was used during the elections as the Palace itself had identified mayors believed to be backed by drug lords.

He said Duterte is vigorously pursuing his objective to prevent the country from becoming a narco-state.

“Because apparently, there are mayors who have already acted independently of their (political) parties from which they don’t seek funding help because they already have sources of funds and most probably, it would be coming from that,” Abella said when asked if local candidates benefited from drug money.

Asked if drug lords may have also funded some candidates for national positions, he said, “We don’t have any comments regarding that.”

“What we can say is that drugs – the influence of drugs and criminality – have already spread to all sectors of society,” Abella added.

In a pre-taped interview over PTV4, Duterte denounced mayors coddling drug syndicates, saying he “will not allow these idiots to run their show” during his term.

Duterte identified the “top tier” drug lords in the country as Wu Tuan alias Peter Co, Peter Lim alias Jaguar and Herbert Colangco alias Ampang.

According to the President, Colangco is the son-in-law of Ozamiz City Mayor Aldong Parajinog.

The President said Colangco was “connected with” Richard King, who was killed in Davao City in June 2014.

Reports also tagged Colangco as among the “Bilibid 19,” a group of drug convicts living luxuriously inside the national penitentiary.

The presidential spokesman also welcomed calls for government workers to be subjected to drug tests.

He said this would help the President in his effort to regain the trust and confidence of the public in the government.

“That should not be a deterrent, it’s not a question of exposing but it’s a question of expressing, it’s a symbolic act. It’s a very powerful symbolic act that would show that we in government are proper and are worthy of trust,” Abella said. – With Evelyn Macairan, Jaime Laude, Christina Mendez, Giovanni Nilles

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