Catholic Media Network

Mayors deny involvement in illegal drug trade

MAYORS accused by President Rodrigo Duterte of involvement in the illegal drug trade issued a flurry of denials on Sunday, with politicians on the President’s list turning up at the police headquarters in Camp Crame to clear their names.

Mayor Dante Garcia of Tubao, La Union, one of four alleged “narco-politicians” from La Union, denied Duterte’s charge and said he even supported the President’s election campaign.

“I was never involved in any use of illegal drugs, selling, or protecting anyone [in] this illegal activity. I maybe suspected of coddling because the No. 3 person, Salvador Marzan alias Amang, in the regional drug watch list is from my town,” Garcia said.

Garcia, who went to Camp Crame, said he even wrote the National Bureau Investigation (NBI) to conduct an operation against Amang.

“He (Amang) was indeed raided by NBI and CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) from Manila but he was able to evade detention because there are influential persons allegedly protecting him,” he said.

Garcia said he had been earning a living from a construction company and other “legal businesses.”

Aside from Garcia, Duterte also named Mayor Martin de Guzman of Bauang town, Mayor Reynaldo Flores of Naguilian town and former representative Eufranio Eriguel as among narco-politicians in La Union.

De Guzman, Flores and Eriguel declined to give statements to The Manila Times.

Mayor Cipriano “Goto” Violago of San Rafael, Bulacan and former Surigao del Sur mayor Rasmiya Macabagos also went to Camp Crame in Quezon City explain their side.

Violago, in a radio interview, denied allegations that he was involved in illegal drugs.

“I myself have been fighting drugs in our town. I gave financial assistance to our police such as cash rewards and incentives to make our municipality’s campaign against drugs effective,” he said.

Violago added that during his term, a total of 109 drug pushers and users were arrested and charged for violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Lasam, Cagayan town mayor Marjorie Salazar was very emotional upon learning that her name was on Duterte’s list, and planned to meet the President on Monday.

Reymar Desiderio, Salazar’s assistant, said the mayor cried before village chairmen who came to see her to show their support.

Desiderio said the mayor denied involvement in the illegal drug trade and went to the Police Regional Office 2 in Tuguegarao, Cagayan at 11 a.m. Sunday to clear her name.

“This has something to do with politics,” Desiderio said.

Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte, was the first to surrender to the Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald de la Rosa.

Last Friday, Maguing Mayor Mamaulan Abinal Molok, former Mayor Mohammadali Abinal of Marantao, Lanao del Sur and Mayor Rasul Sangki of Ampatuan, Maguindanao surrendered to the CIDG to give their statements.

WILLIAM JUN GARCIA, FREDERICK SILVERIO AND LEANDER C. DOMINGO AND PNA