2 ‘narco mayors’ weep before Rody

The Philippine Star

List of 27 drug mayors ‘revalidated’

MANILA, Philippines – Faced with the possibility of being shot on sight, two mayors wept before President Duterte as they pleaded with him to spare their lives and the humiliation of being publicly identified as local officials with links to the illegal drug trade.

Duterte said he ordered the concerned law enforcement agencies to assess the report identifying the two local executives as “drug protectors” before deciding whether to release the list to the public.

“The two offered to resign,” Duterte said, adding he refused to accept the resignation pending further investigation.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, for his part, said some governors and mayors from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao believed to be involved in illegal drug operations were now seeking refuge in Marawi City.

Speaking to editors and reporters of The STAR yesterday at Malacañang, Duterte said the two mayors paid him a visit at the Palace and tried to clear their names.

One of the two said some drug suspects could be dropping their names to evade arrest, Duterte said.

The President said politicians’ careers would be destroyed once they are accused in public, even wrongfully.

In the case of those allegedly involved, Duterte explained he was making sure that the list was double-checked and verified before he would make any announcement.

Unlike in the case of the so-called narco-generals, Duterte said he wanted to validate further the category of the two executives’ alleged drug-coddling activities.

“Sabi ko, I will revalidate… kung nakalagay protector lang, what kind of protector: there are two kinds – the one that protects by telling (lawmen) not to touch them, ‘those are my men’, or ‘don’t touch them, their (operations were cleared with me)’,” Duterte said.

Destroying the apparatus

Amid the outcry over extrajudicial killings caused by his anti-drug campaign, Duterte vowed to destroy the apparatus of illegal drugs to save the country from further destruction.

There are about 500,000 drug addicts who have surrendered to authorities nationwide, he said, noting this was unprecedented.

“Life is life. We cannot build a nation by killing our own citizens. I will deal with this because I have to destroy the apparatus. But I know, your duty… you have to stick by the institutions,” he said.

“Somebody has to decide… somebody to say that these guys are lying… I am really mad at these sons of …”

He cited the case of Albuera, Leyte town mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., who surrendered to authorities after the President gave him an ultimatum or be shot on sight along with son Roland, alias Kerwin.?The President said he got wind of reports that Espinosa’s operations might have spilled over from Leyte and reached Bohol, Cebu and nearby provinces.

He expressed exasperation, citing the cases of Daanbantayan, Cebu town Mayor Vicente Loot and retired police general Marcelo Garbo – who were among the police generals he earlier named for alleged involvement in illegal drugs.

Duterte cited the cases of Loot and Garbo to illustrate how one could be classified as a drug coddler or protector.

He said Loot and Garbo would ask the police during anti-drug operations to retreat because the agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency were there.

“The troops would really believe when there’s none at all. That’s the pro-active protector,” Duterte said.

Duterte said there were many local executives tagged in drug activities – but none from Metro Manila.

Local execs told to explain drug links

Earlier in the day, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the proper agencies were working on the reports that some local executives were involved in the illegal drug trade.

On the President’s shoot-on-sight order, Abella said it would stand only when lawmen’s lives are endangered.

Abella said the authorities had identified and reached out to these local executives and sought their side.

Bomb them if necessary

Dela Rosa vowed to be relentless in pursuing these local officials, who he said should be held liable for allowing drug lords to operate, destroying the future of Filipino children.

“If those providing them safe haven are armed, then we will request the Air Force to bomb the place,” the PNP chief said.

Duterte’s plan to announce the names of local officials may have prompted the escape of some of these governors and mayors to Marawi City. But he said he had no idea as to who were giving refuge to the alleged narco-governors and mayors.

Dela Rosa said over radio dzBB that the President already read to his Cabinet members the long list of names during a meeting on Monday.

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said there were about 27 mayors cited as protecting the illegal drug trade.

Dela Rosa, however, refused to reveal the names, saying the President would make the announcement.

The PNP chief said the President might ask the Department of the Interior and Local Government to take action against the local government officials linked to drugs.

Dela Rosa said other officials of LGUs should do what Espinosa did – surrender and help the government fight the war on drugs.

Interior Secretary Ismael Sueño ordered mayors and governors nationwide to address the problem on illegal drugs in six months or lose their police powers.

Sueño said “inept” local executives could also lose their National Police Commission (Napolcom) deputation giving them direct operational supervision over police units in their jurisdiction.

Not just NBP but Abuyog penitentiary

Earlier, Dela Rosa said Espinosa made some significant revelations about the illegal drug operations of his son, who in the drug trade hierarchy, operated at a level similar to Jeffrey Diaz, alias Jaguar, the top drug lord in Central Visayas who was shot dead by police operatives in Las Piñas last June 19.

According to Dela Rosa, a convicted drug lord in Abuyog Penitentiary in southern Leyte continues to supply drugs while another is at the Davao Penal Colony.

“If you remember, we caught a ship in Subic and the consignee was a convicted drug lord currently detained,” Dela Rosa said.

Some members of the media observed that the mayor, his wife and daughter were wearing signature shirts and carrying expensive bags when they arrived at Camp Crame yesterday afternoon to give statements on alleged drug activities. – With Roel Pareño

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