Mayor files libel suit vs former candidate
Jennifer P. Rendon (The Freeman) - September 5, 2015 - 10:00am

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog filed a P3 million libel suit against a defeated politician over illegal drug issues.

Mabilog filed the case on September 4 against Bryan Zulueta, who ran and lost for a City Council post in the 2013 polls, following accusations linking the former to illegal drugs.

During the launching of Iloilo Alliance against Corruption and Transparency (I-ACT) on August 31, Zulueta said “50 percent of illegal drugs sales go to the mayor.”

Zulueta, a convener of I-ACT, recanted his statement the following day, saying he was not alluding to Mabilog. He also made a publicly apology to Mabilog and clarified that his statement was a mere “hearsay.”

But Mabilog was not appeased with the respondent’s public apology.

Mabilog said Zulueta’s accusations could be considered “libelous” and “irresponsible.” He then said he will face Zulueta in court.

If he wins, the mayor said he will use the P3 million for drug rehabilitation purposes.

In filing the case, Mabilog was accompanied by Paul Ledesma, director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) -Western Visayas.

Ledesma was quoted as saying he is a living witness to the aggressive stance of the city government against illegal drugs.

I-ACT is a group composed mainly of defeated candidates and critics of Mabilog and his administration. But some observers believe that it was created for election purposes.

Aside from Zulueta, other I-ACT conveners are the daughter of the late congressman and Justice secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr., Dr. Marigold Gonzalez, former city councilors Jeffrey Ganzon and Rolando Dabao; Pax Ngo, Mercedes Nava; Rex Donasco, president of Iloilo Central Market Association of Stall Owners and Transient Vendors; and lawyers Hansel Didulo and Dan Cartagena.In a 2011 report, five villages in this city were identified by the PDEA-6 as seriously drug-affected barangays.

Yogi Filemon Ruiz, then director of PDEA-6, said this number was a decrease from the nine barangays earlier declared under this category by the agency in the previous months.The five barangays are Veterans Village and Malipayon in the City Proper district, Boulevard in Molo, Desamparados in Jaro, and Bakhaw.

PDEA did not go into details why the three other previously drug-affected barangays were delisted from the latest validation of drug-affected areas in the city.

“I’m just basing from the validation conducted when I assumed post. These barangays are the predominant ones when it comes to illegal drug trade. Sila ‘yung pinaka-problematic kaya dapat talaga silang bigyan ng pansin kasi they spell a difference in the illegal drug business in Iloilo City,” he said.

PDEA also said it had a dialogue with leaders of these barangays and they in turn acknowledged that something must be done to curb the illegal drug trade in their respective turfs. –/JMD

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