Denials start as execs troop to Crame
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - August 8, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – There may be heavy traffic on roads leading to the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) at Camp Crame in Quezon City in the next days.

A total of 159 people including local officials, police officers, judges and some from the military were named yesterday by President Duterte to be involved in illegal drug trade. Many of them are set to report to the CIDG to clear their names.

Duterte directed those in the list to report to their immediate superiors or face his “shoot-on-sight” order.

The morning coffee went cold for some of the officials upon learning they were included in Duterte’s list.

Among them is Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog who was informed by his chief of police at 6:30 a.m. that he was tagged by the President as an illegal drugs protector.

Mabilog went to regional police director Chief Supt. Jose Gentiles to deny the allegations.

“I am willing to open myself for any investigation, cooperate and submit myself to the court of law. Since this is an urgent matter, which endangers my personal security and that of my family, I request that the authorities conduct a speedy investigation for I too want the truth and nothing but the truth to come out,” he said.

San Rafael, Bulacan Mayor Cipriano “Goto” Violago denied any link to illegal drugs. He said he was puzzled why the President read out his name.

Violago was the first to arrive at the CIDG to clear his name of any connections with illegal drugs.

He was later instructed to proceed to Major Crimes Investigation Unit (MCIU) where he is required to give a statement.

Bauang, La Union Mayor Martin de Guzman turned to the media to clear his name. The mayor said he was in Cebu yesterday to participate in a sports competition. He said he was prompted to proceed to the CIDG regional office there to explain his side.

De Guzman said his record against illegal drugs would bail him out from the accusations.

Former mayor Rasmiyah Macabago of Siguiaran, Lanao del Sur arrived at the CIDG shortly at noon yesterday and denied the allegations.

Tubao, La Union Mayor Dante Garcia also turned up at the CIDG and denied any involvement in illegal drug activities

Pangasinan Rep. Rep. Jesus Celeste said he is open to any investigation to clear his name.

Celeste said would talk to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to help him relay his concern to the President.

“My conscience is clear and I keep calm. The people here know how we struggled in our business, including our modest lifestyle,” he said.

Celeste claimed his political enemies have been dragging his name in illegal drugs since 2001. He served as mayor of Bolinao town for three successive terms.

Former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama also denied the allegations in a statement he posted on his Facebook account.

“The news that my name was mentioned by President Duterte is saddening. Even how untrue this accusation is, should this be the way and the necessary step to win the war against drugs, I will fully cooperate with the authorities to immediately clear my name and we trust that we will be given the opportunity to present our side and prove our innocence,” Rama said. 

Mabalacat, Pampanga Mayor Marino Morales also took to social media in denying his inclusion in the list.

“I am innocent and have no involvement with illegal drugs now or in the past. I will cooperate with any investigation or inquiry in order to clear my name and my family,” Morales said.

Nenita Miranda, a sister of convicted former Santiago City, Isabela mayor Jose Miranda, said she was surprised by the inclusion of her brother in the list.

She said her brother has been in prison for two years, adding there was no basis for the allegations that he was a drug protector.

Miranda was convicted along with three of his bodyguards for the frustrated murder of Reward Alvarez, the brother of former senator Heherson Alvarez.

Lasam, Cagayan Mayor Marjorie Salazar showed up before Cagayan Valley regional police director Chief Supt. Gilberto Sosa, denying the allegations.

Sosa assured Salazar she would be escorted to Manila to seek audience with Duterte and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

Chief Insp. Ibrahim Jambiran, the chief of police of Calbayog City, said he would be reporting to Malacañang within 24 hours to seek audience with Duterte.

Jambiran claimed he was a victim of politics and rido (family vendetta).

Jambiran said he earlier arrested a drug dealer who claimed to be a nephew of a ranking official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The nephew reportedly threatened to kill one of Jambiran’s relatives upon his release.

Jambiran claimed the list was “antiquated” as his name was included when he was then assigned in Zamboanga City in 2007.

As for Calbayog, Samar Mayor Ronald Aquino, he was wondering why the late Calbayog City judge Norberto Navidad was included in the list.

Aquino clarified Navidad has been dead for eight years.

“This is so much disappointing, why will you dishonor the reputation of a person who is already dead? In my opinion all the information given to the President must be revalidated (updated),” he said.

Meanwhile, the communist National Democratic Front (NDF) denied Northern Samar Rep. Edwin Ong and his uncle, Northern Samar Gov. Jose Ong were linked to illegal drugs.

“There is no truth and factual basis in the allegations of the Ongs’ participation in the illegal drugs trade in the province of Northern Samar. If the Ongs were involved in illegal drug trade, we will certainly not be blind and we would have definitely taken immediate action,” said Santiago Salas, spokesman for the NDF in Eastern Visayas.

Laoang, Northern Samar Mayor Hector Ong and his sister, former mayor Madeleine Ong denied the allegations, saying they are in fact “anti-illegal drug crusaders.”

“I will clear my name because the President himself has assured us that we will be given due process. But clearly, I categorically deny that we are narco- politicians. We are public servants,” Mayor Ong said.

Madeleine, for her part, said she was surprised with her inclusion in Duterte’s list.

“We are willing to be investigated. I think the list should be reviewed. But I trust that President Duterte will accord us due process,” Madeleine said.

‘So many things to do’

CIDG director Chief Supt. Roel Obusan said they are expecting all those included in the list to give their respective denials in their statements.

Obusan said they have to further improve their performance to be able to meet the expectations of Duterte in the investigation of drug personalities in his list.

Obusan said he is updating the PNP chief on the investigation and statement being given by drug personalities to the CIDG.

“We will systematize to enhance performance. So many things to do. My people should have passion in their tasks – not only double the job,” Obusan said.

The CIDG is the investigating arm of the PNP, which is at the forefront of the campaign against illegal drugs.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno said the department is all geared up for a swift and fair investigation on the involved local officials and policemen.

“We assure you that the probe will be swift yet fair to the accused,” Sueno said.

Sueno said if the concerned are provincial elective and city elective officials who are under the DILG’s administrative jurisdiction, the department can immediately commence inquiry after getting an authority from the Office of the President to investigate.

He said the DILG may use reports and available evidence against the local chief executives.

On the other hand, if the suspected narco-politicians named belonged either to the municipal government or barangay, Sueno said their respective councils will have administrative jurisdiction over them or in both instances, the Office of the Ombudsman.

“The President himself said that this has to stop. It’s plain and simple. The President wants a clean government. This is not for the merit of this administration. We are doing this for us Filipino people and our descendants,” he said.

Sueno said he directed the DILG’s Legal, Legislative and Liaison Service (LLLS) to prioritize the probe on the local officials named in the list.

“Definitely it shouldn’t take a year and should not even take six months to do case build-up on one alleged narco-politician,” LLLS acting director Edward Justine Orden said.

“As I see it, they may be pressed with grave misconduct. In first offense, it is already punishable with dismissal from service. If the President authorizes us to be the complainant,

we can do that, and after gathering the pieces of evidence, we will file the cases to the Office of the Ombudsman,” he added.

Sueno added the public need not worry of disruption of local government services should their local elective officials be put under probe.

Even if local chief executives are under investigation, they could still perform their duties unless they are told by the courts or if they are placed under preventive suspension during the investigation of the case, he said. 

“If that would be the case, then the rule of succession will be followed,” Sueno said.

PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos reiterated the instruction of the President for police officers linked to illegal drugs to immediately report to their respective superiors.

Carlos said all the police commanders who have direct supervision over the erring policemen could initiate the accounting at the soonest possible time.

“The policemen named by the President must report to their mother unit or to their immediate commanders for accounting. They will undergo administrative proceedings,” Carlos said.

He said the expose of the President would allow an intensive internal cleansing in the PNP.

Since July 1, a day after Duterte assumed office and detailed Dela Rosa as PNP chief, over 400 people have been killed and more than half a million drug dependents surrendered.

Dela Rosa had ordered the transfer of more than 30 policemen from Metro Manila to Mindanao over reports of their involvement in illegal drugs.

He said there will be more reassignments in the coming days, as information showed more policemen were getting involved in illegal drug activities. – With Edith Regalado, Non Alquitran, Eva Visperas, Lalaine Jimenea, Raymund Catindig, Jennifer Rendon, Jun Elias, Ding Cervantes, Ric Sapnu, Miriam Desacada

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