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An alleged drug lord and his wife were gunned down in a seaport in Aklan yesterday, just four days after meeting with Interior Secretary Mike Sueno at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos, spokesman of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said unidentified gunmen shot Melvin and Meriam Odicta who had just disembarked from a RORO (Roll On-Roll Off) ship at the Caticlan Jetty Port at around 1:30 a.m.
“They were walking along a walkway towards the port office when they were shot. They were taken to the nearby hospital but were pronounced dead on arrival,” said Carlos.
Gaulberto Cataluña, the couple’s lawyer who was waiting for them at the Caticalan Jetty Port, said Meriam died on the spot, but Melvin was still alive.
Cataluña said he saw Melvin limping and asking for help before responding policemen allegedly handcuffed him and threw him on the police car that brought him to the hospital.
Upon arrival at the hospital, the lawyer said he was shocked to see his client dead with other gunshot wounds.
Cataluña’s claim was belied by Chief Inspector Mark Evan Salvo, chief of the Malay PNP, during a press conference.
Salvo denied that Melvin was handcuffed by the police and that he suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
The police offered little details on the circumstances on the couple’s death.
Known as the “Dragon,” Melvin was tagged as main supplier of illegal drugs in Iloilo and nearby areas.
Sueno said the couple earlier met with the regional director of the Western Visayas Regional Police who advised them to go to Camp Crame and surrender to PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.
“But they chose to meet with me instead because I am a fellow Ilonggo,” said Sueno.
During the meeting, Sueno disclosed that the couple denied any involvement in illegal drugs trade, insisting that they were legitimate businessmen in transportation and restaurant in Iloilo City.
But in his visit to Iloilo City last week, Dela Rosa laughed off the claim of the Odicta couple.
The couple, according to Sueno, was forced to surrender because they have been receiving death threats in connection with their alleged involvement in illegal drugs activities.
“I advised them to go to the CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) to file their affidavits and be investigated,” said Sueno.
Before the meeting between Sueno and the Odicta couple last Thursday, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) sent out media invitation to cover the supposed revelation of the Odicta couple of the involvement of some senators and other officials in the illegal drug trade.
In the media invitation, Melvin Odicta was described as drug financier and is listed in the suspected drug personality list of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
“Odicta said he will reveal his own matrix of other personalities involved, including senators, congressmen and other local officials,” the media invitation from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) read.
But no such matrix was revealed during the supposed press briefing.
In an interview, Sueno kept on talking about confidential documents that were shown to him by the Odicta couple. He said he advised them to forward them to the CIDG.
But sources said no such documents were received by the CIDG. What was submitted was a copy of the conviction of Melvin on the possession of marijuana several years ago.
The couple insisted on their innocence on the allegation of their drug links, particularly on the allegation that Melvin was the “Dragon”.