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Cebu town mayor Loot maintains innocence

By DENNIS PRINCIPE

A Cebu municipal mayor tagged by President Duterte as a drug protector said he has no bodyguards and doesn’t believe he would suffer the same fate as Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Jr. who was killed in a drug raid last July 30.

Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot, who goes around the municipality with his driver, said he’s willing to face any investigation, claiming that he learned from his sources from within that he was already cleared by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 7 from accusations of hidden wealth and alleged involvement with illegal drugs last October.

“In fact after my name was dragged last year I immediately went to the DILG. But if there’s a need for me to face another investigation I am more than willing. My life is an open book,” said Loot, who is hoping the CIDG 7 will provide them a copy of the result of their investigation.

Loot, a former top police official, said his case is different with that of Parojinog’s.

“Everybody knew their (Parojinogs’) background and ako naman, I was accused of protection. And if we go over sa Senate hearing, it turned out that my accusers and supposed humihingi ng money for me, hindi kami lahat magkakakilala,” said Loot who maintained that their family’s wealth was acquired legally.

“My wife’s SALN (State of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth) was P80 million and ako, P70,000 lang before we got married and because wala kaming pre-nuptial agreement, nag-reflect na yung finances niya sa SALN ko eventually,” Loot explained.

Loot’s name was mentioned anew by Duterte when he spoke on the occasion of the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s 113th anniversary Wednesday.

The Chief Executive again linked Loot to the drug protection racket and identified him as a protégé of former President Benigno S. Aquino III and ex-Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” A. Roxas II.

Loot denied both accusations.

“I hope mapagbigyan ako ng Presidente na makaabot sa kaniya na hindi ako naging Liberal. In fact, pinahirapan kami ng mga Liberal,” disclosed Loot. “Hindi ako nagka-pwesto dahil yung wife ko hindi sumunod sa gusto nila. Natalo ang wife ko during mid-term election dahil sa Liberal.”

Loot said his wife, Marila Luisa, was a long-time mayor of their municipality but lost in 2013 to a Liberal Party-backed candidate Augusto Corro after they maintained their loyalty to the Garcia political clan who fielded Pablo John but eventually lost to another LP bet Hilario Davide III that same year.

“Natapon ako sa Samar, sa Leyte dahil sa Liberal. Na-promote ako but was not given any assignments dahil markado ako ni Roxas. I can’t understand paano ako identified sa kanila,” said a seemingly perplexed Loot.

Loot insists his predicament is purely political after he defeated by a slim, seven-vote margin the then-incumbent mayor Corro during the 2016 polls.

“Pride na siguro nila kaya ako nadidiin. Hindi siguro matanggap na matatalo sila sa akin,” said Loot.

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