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6 mayors deny ties to illegal drugs

Six mayors named by President Duterte yesterday denied their involvement in the illegal drugs trade.

They were Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo City; and Siegfredo “Onting” Betita of Carles, Mariano “Mar” Malones Sr. of Maasin, and Alex Centena of Calinog, all in Iloilo, San Rafael, Bulacan Mayor Cipriano Violago, and Bauang, La Union Mayor Martin de Guzman.

“I can categorically say that I am not involved in the protection, trade, and use of illegal drugs. It is very unfortunate and disconcerting that my name is linked,” said Mabilog.

“I am shocked. The people of Carles are shocked. I do not know what is the basis my name is included,” Betita said. For Malones, the act of the President naming him as a drug protector is worse than being killed.

Centena considered his inclusion as an alleged drug protector to be politically motivated.

Violago went to the headquarters of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Camp Crame, Quezon City to give a statement. “I am willing to answer everything that the police would ask me. I also want to tell our President that my alleged involvement in drugs is not true,” said Violago.

De Guzman denied ties to the illegal drugs trade in a media interview. “I really do not know the basis of the President. I am also wondering why my name was included,” said De Guzman.

Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon yesterday admitted he was deeply saddened and hurt over the sudden perception that his province is a bastion of illegal drug operations when some mayors in Iloilo were among those named by Duterte.

Drilon said this inevitably rendered Ilonggos’ efforts for the past five years to make the province as a viable investment destination futile.

Supreme Court records showed that three of the eight trial court judges named by Duterte as involved in illegal drugs are no longer members of the Judiciary.

Records showed that Judge Roberto Navidad was shot dead in 2008 in Calbayog City where he was assigned as judge of the regional trial court.

While the President did not give the first name of “Judge Mupas of Dasmariñas, Cavite,” there was a Judge Lorinda Toledo-Mupas who was dismissed by the SC in 2007 for ignorance of the law.

Judge Rene Gonzales who was also named by Duterte has retired from the Iloilo City Metropolitan Trial Court. The date of the retirement was not immediately known. (Tara Yap, Aaron B. Recuenco, Hannah L. Torregoza, and Rey G. Panaligan)